Allianz SE (ALV), Germany’s biggest insurer, entered exclusive negotiations with France’s Groupama SA to buy the brokerage activities of its industrial insurance unit.
The potential acquisition would exclude Gan Eurocourtage’s transport business, Allianz and Paris-based Groupama said in a three-line joint e-mailed statement today, which didn’t provide further information.
The French company is scaling back some businesses after it swung to a loss last year on Greek debt writedowns. Groupama agreed in December to sell part of its stake in real-estate company Silic SA (SIL) to French state-owned lender Caisse des Depots et Consignations, which also injected 300 million euros ($398 million) in Gan Eurocourtage by subscribing to preferred shares.
Groupama also has put its private-equity funds and its U.K. insurance business up for sale, Chief Executive Officer Thierry Martel said on March 15. While the company wants to focus on its main markets, especially France and Italy, it will stop targeting acquisitions for international expansion, he said.
Swiss Re, the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, was also interested in buying GAN Eurocourtage, along with private equity firms Apax Partners LLP and PAI Partners, for about 600 million euros, Reuters reported on April 24. Groupama initially wanted to raise 700 million euros from the sale, Financial Times Deutschland reported on March 29, citing unidentified people.
Groupama, owned by a group of French regional insurers, had a 1.8 billion-euro net loss in 2011 as it booked 1.55 billion euros in writedowns from Greek sovereign debt and 1.5 billion euros of losses on equity holdings.
Munich-based Allianz is one of the world’s biggest industrial insurers, which help protect commercial customers with coverage including liability, technical, fire and transport insurance. It competes with companies such as New York-based American International Group Inc. (AIG:US)’s Chartis Inc. division and Talanx AG, Germany’s third-biggest insurer.
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