May 7, 2018 / 2:50 PM / 5 months ago

Allianz CEO suggests open to merger of equals: FT

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Allianz’s (ALVG.DE) chief executive officer suggested he was open to a merger of equals, but also said lofty stock valuations stood in the way of big deals, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Oliver Baete, Chief Executive Officer of Europe's biggest insurer Allianz SE, arrives for the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Munich, Germany May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

“Large companies need to be ready for mergers, and we haven’t found many,” the paper quoted Oliver Baete as saying.

“We are always open for these discussions, and more so than, I think, other institutions.”

Baete added, however: “It is very difficult to justify paying 30 percent more on a 30 billion euro ($36 billion) asset than to pay 30 percent on a 5 billion euro asset,” .

He also said good targets were hard to find. “We’ve decided that we have not found yet the attractive asset to make us comfortable to plow out a lot of money,” he told the paper.

Baete has often pointed to the high price of potential takeover targets when asked about mergers and acquisitions for Allianz, Europe’s largest insurer.

He ruled out hostile takeovers. “We would never go after anybody against their will; never,” Baete told the paper.

He also said executives were sometimes more interested in their own jobs, rather than what was best for their companies and shareholders.

($1 = 0.8391 euros)

Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter

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