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UPDATE 1-Finnish insurer Sampo cuts stake in Nordea

(Adds activist Elliott’s comments)

HELSINKI, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Finnish insurer Sampo has sold 4% of the share capital in Nordea Bank in an accelerated bookbuild offering to institutional investors, it said late on Tuesday.

Activist investor Elliott Advisors said it had acquired investments equivalent to more than 3% of Sampo’s share capital and welcomed Sampo’s decision to begin the disposal of its investment in Nordea.

In a statement on Wednesday, Elliott said the move could turn the Sampo into a pure-play insurance champion and unlock 7 billion euros ($8.3 billion) in value.

The stake was sold at 7.25 euros per share, to be compared to Nordea’s closing price of 7.59 euros on Tuesday, and Sampo said it would incur a 222 million euro ($262 million) accounting loss from the transaction for the last quarter in 2020.

After the sale, Sampo remains the biggest owner in Nordea with a 15.9% stake.

A spokesman for Nordea said the bank does not comment on changes in its shareholder base.

The move would provide much needed focus and strategic clarity for Sampo and alleviate investor uncertainty surrounding its strategy, Elliott said.

Elliott said Sampo’s share price has suffered due to Nordea’s weak share price, and has in turn caused a substantial de-rating of Sampo’s insurance assets.

Sampo also said it had entered a lock-up undertaking, agreeing not to sell any Nordea shares before May 9, 2021.

$1 = 0.8457 euros Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom and Colm Fulton in Stockholm, Anne Kauranen in Helsinki and Sinead Cruise in London; Editing by Simon Johnson, Karin Strohecker and Louise Heavens

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