July 7, 2018 / 1:33 AM / 2 months ago

Italy's Generali almost at the end of planned asset sales - CEO

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (Reuters) - Italy’s Generali, fresh from agreeing to sell a majority of its German life insurance unit, has almost wrapped up all of its planned disposals as it prepares for a new phase of expansion, Chief Executive Philippe Donnet said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Philippe Donnet, CEO of the Italian insurance company Generali, is seen before shareholders meeting in Trieste, Italy, April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

“In terms of what was on the list (of assets to sell), we’ve practically got to the end,” Donnet said on the sidelines of a conference in Aix-en-Provence, southern France.

Donnet said Generali’s operations in Portugal, which according to Portuguese media had attracted Chinese interest in recent months, were not for sale or part of planned sell-offs.

Generali has been selling businesses and exiting smaller markets such as Belgium as it raises proceeds to help fund expansion of asset management operations and beef up its fee-based business.

It said on Thursday it had agreed to sell a majority of its German life insurance unit Generali Leben to private equity-backed Viridium for up to 1.9 billion euros (£1.6 billion) - a deal which according to Donnet had come on top of the assets it had already earmarked for sale.

Generali is now contemplating buying a 10 percent stake in Viridium from the group’s majority shareholder Cinven as part of the Leben deal. That would leave Cinven with 70 percent in Viridium. Reinsurer Hannover Re is also a Viridium shareholder.

“We’re going to do due diligence on it, it’s an option that interests us,” Donnet said. He declined to comment on how much such a deal would cost.

The Leben deal added to speculation over how Generali would use the cash it has raised from selling assets - and whether it could go towards acquisitions - when it announces a new strategy in November.

“It will be a very different strategy to what we have done in recent years,” Donnet said, adding the firm’s expansion and growth plans also meant investing in areas such as innovation.

“There will of course be organic growth, as we do today we will continue to finance organic growth in places like Asia, and there will maybe be some non-organic growth.”

Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Matthias Blamont and Mark Potter

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