Spanish Bank Bankinter to Spin Off Its P/C Insurance Unit Linea Directa

MADRID – Spanish bank Bankinter said on Tuesday it cleared all regulatory hurdles to spin off its insurance unit Linea Directa and list its shares on the market in late April.

Bankinter, which has secured the European Central Bank’s approval for an operation it had planned for more than a year, expects Linea Directa to have a market value of 1.43 billion euros ($1.70 billion) after the floating, it said in a statement.

Linea Directa booked 900 million euros from premiums from three million clients last year, Bankinter’s CEO Maria Dolores Dancausa said on Tuesday during a banking event in Madrid.

Linea Directa’s share price would start at 1.318 euros per share and Bankinter would retain a 17.4% stake after the operation, while distributing the remaining 82.6% to existing Bankinter shareholders.

The bank, which took control of all the shares of the insurer 11 years ago, has considered the unit a financial investment, Dancausa said. “It was always thought that at some point it would go public and that point was yesterday,” she said.

The insurer will pay a special dividend of 120 million euros to its parent company in April before the flotation, the bank said.

Bankinter shares were trading 3.8% up in late morning trading after announcing the date for the spin-off.

Linea Directa’s flotation will be the first on the Madrid stock exchange this year out of around the half a dozen expected.

[Editor’s note: Launched in 1995, Madrid-based Línea Directa sells auto, homeowners and health insurance. At the end of 2018, the company ranked fifth in Spain in auto insurance, 15th in homeowners and is the 12th largest non-life entity in terms of revenue, according to the company’s website].

Beside the insurer, several energy firms are planning to go public or to take a unit public in the coming weeks. Acciona has already started the process of spinning off its renewable energy unit, while energy firms such as Capital Energy and Opdenergy are also to raise funds by going public.

Green energy producer Grenergy and solar equipment maker Soltec were the latest companies to debut on the local market in late 2019 and late 2020 respectively.

($1 = 0.8414 euros) (Reporting by Inti Landauro, Anita Kobylinska and Tomas Cobos; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)