Blackstone sells 36% stake in UK insurer Rothesay Life

FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

LONDON (Reuters) - Private equity firm Blackstone BX.N has sold its 36% shareholding in Rothesay Life to existing shareholders Singapore fund GIC and U.S. insurer MassMutual, the UK insurer and annuity provider said on Wednesday.

The stake sale, which values Rothesay Life at 5.75 billion pounds ($7.37 billion), sees GIC and MassMutual each take on a 49% stake in the company, Rothesay Life said.

The three firms have been shareholders in Rothesay Life, which insures defined benefit, or final salary pension schemes, since 2013.

This so-called bulk annuity market has been growing in Britain in recent years as companies look to offload the risk of operating such schemes, which pay a fixed income to retired staff for life.

Since the three firms’ initial investment, Rothesay’s assets under management have grown to 56 billion pounds from 7.5 billion, the insurer said.

Addy Loudiadis, CEO of Rothesay Life, said the deal “provides the business with exceptional long-term support from two of the world’s leading institutional investors”.

Qasim Abbas, senior managing director at Blackstone, said the growth of the Rothesay business since Blackstone’s initial investment had been “outstanding”, adding that MassMutual and GIC were “the natural long-term holders for Rothesay”.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Sinead Cruise