Bloomberg News

Irish Life Halts Sale Process for Unit, Citing Market Slump

November 27, 2011

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Irish Life & Permanent Plc., the mortgage-lender controlled by Irish taxpayers, said it suspended efforts to sell its life assurance unit after bids were too low.

The lender halted the sale process amid “very challenging” market conditions, Eoin Dorgan, a spokesman for the Irish Department of Finance, said in a statement yesterday. The firm had attracted a bid in excess of 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) from Canada Life, an Irish unit of Great-West Lifeco Inc., two people familiar with the matter said this month.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s government plans to split insurance operations from the unprofitable bank unit. Taxpayers injected 2.7 billion euros into the company in July as part of the country’s 62 billion euro bailout of its banking system. The state owns 99.5 percent of the firm.

“The very challenging market environment in recent days was not supportive to achieving an outcome that recognizes the strength of the Irish Life business,” Dorgan said. “None of the bids received for Irish Life were acceptable at the present time.”

The separation of the businesses may be completed by the end of the first quarter, the company said.

A joint bid from U.S. leveraged buyout firms JC Flowers & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC and an offer from CVC Capital Partners Ltd. had also been shortlisted for the unit, three people familiar with the matter said in August.

“The process attracted significant interest from a broad range of potential acquirers,” Ray Gordon, a spokesman for Irish Life, said in a separate statement. “Conditions are not conducive to concluding a transaction of this size at this time, and in that context the process has been suspended.”

--With assistance from Joe Brennan in Dublin. Editors: Dan Kraut, David Scheer

To contact the reporters on this story: Donal Griffin in New York at Dgriffin10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net.


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