Generali picks two bidders for U.S. Life unit: sources

LONDON/MILAN Mon Apr 8, 2013 1:25pm EDT

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LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - Europe's third-biggest insurer Generali (GASI.MI) has moved closer to selling its U.S. life reinsurance unit as it shortlisted two among a large number of bidders, two people with direct knowledge of the situation said on Monday.

The selected bidders are French reinsurer Scor (SCOR.PA) and a U.S. rival, said one of the people who asked not to be named because the talks are private.

Financial Italian daily Sole 24 Ore earlier reported that Scor and a U.S. player were in pole position to acquire Generali US.

Munich Re (MUVGn.DE), Zurich Insurance, Swiss Re (SRENH.VX), Hannover Re (HNRGn.DE), US rival RGA (RGA.N) and a bunch of Bermuda-incorporated reinsurers such as Everest Re (RE.N) were also interested to buy Generali US [nL6E8JNF7Y].

Generali's new Chief executive Mario Greco aims to raise 4 billion euros from non-core asset sales to shore up capital and restore value after long-standing CEO Giovanni Perissinotti was ousted by disappointed investors led by Mediobanca.

The insurer is hoping to secure $800m to $1bn for Generali US and about 2 billion euros ($2.60 billion) for its private bank BSI, which it is also selling.

It said on Friday it has already reaped a capital gain of 143 million euros ($186.14 million) from the sale of a stake in its asset management arm Banca Generali (BGN.MI).

The Italian insurer, along with European peers such as Aviva (AV.L), is being forced to restructure to cope with low interest rates, tighter regulation and the weak economic climate.

Generali declined to comment while Scor was not immediately available for comment. ($1 = 0.7682 euros)

(Reporting by Sophie Sassard and Paola Arosia; Additional reporting by Gianluca Semeraro in Milan; Editing by David Cowell)

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