January 14, 2011 / 4:24 PM / 9 years ago

Resolution mulls bid for Unicredit's Pioneer -sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Insurance-focussed takeover specialist Resolution RSL.L is considering a bid for Pioneer, the fund management arm of Italian bank UniCredit (CRDI.MI), two sources familiar with the situation said.

Analysts reckon the business, which had assets under management of 185 billion euros (155.7 billion pounds) at the end of June last year, could fetch about 3 billion euros.

Resolution is among a number of parties approached by Unicredit but it is unclear whether it will proceed with an offer, and it has not carried out due diligence on the business, one of the sources said.

Unicredit, Italy’s biggest listed bank, said it had held a first round of meetings with potential bidders for Pioneer, but declined to comment on whether Resolution was among them.

“The objective remains to explore strategic partnerships and other strategic options to maximise Pioneer Investments’ overall franchise value,” a spokesperson said on Friday.

Resolution declined to comment.

UniCredit, keen to bolster its capital strength, appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch to consider options for Pioneer including a sale in May last year.

Bankers have previously identified French asset manager Amundi, owned by Credit Agricole and Societe Generale, and Natixis as other potential suitors for the business.

Resolution, founded in 2008 by insurance tycoon Clive Cowdery, has said it may buy a funds business to act as the in-house asset manager for its life insurance operations.

The company plans to build up a life insurer worth 10 billion pounds ($15.84 billion) through acquisitions before selling or floating it by 2013.

It bought Friends Provident for 1.8 billion pounds in 2009 and paid 2.75 billion pounds for most of Axa’s British operations in June last year.

Resolution’s shares fell 32 percent last year, making them among the worst performing insurance stocks in Europe, partly because of concerns the company may fund acquisitions through large-scale rights issues.

($1=.7436 euros)

($1=.6312 pounds)

Editing by Greg Mahlich

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