UPDATE 1-Unipol says Allianz, Axa, Zurich, eyeing assets

Thu May 2, 2013 8:25am EDT

MILAN May 2 (Reuters) - Italian insurer Unipol has received 10-15 expressions of interest for 1.7 billion euros ($2.24 billion) in assets it must sell as part of a merger with peer Fondiaria-SAI, the company's CEO said on Thursday.

The merger of Unipol and Fondiaria, expected to close by the end of the year, will create Italy's second biggest insurer behind Assicurazioni Generali with around 37 percent of the domestic auto insurance market.

"The parties interested include Allianz, Axa , Aviva, Zurich, Cattolica and several private equity funds," Carlo Cimbri said in a meeting with the foreign press.

Unipol has been forced by Italy's anti-trust authority to sell the assets as part of its rescue of the Fondiaria-SAI group.

Cimbri said an information memorandum would be sent to interested parties in the next few days.

"We expect to close the sale by the end of the year though the transfer of property could slip into next year," he said.

He said the portfolio - which includes premiums, agencies and other assets - will be sold in two blocks but added any interested party would be able to make an offer for both.

The merger, which involves a 4-way tie-up that also includes Fondiaria's listed unit Milano Assicurazioni, will create a group with five different kinds of shares, including savings shares at Fondiaria and Milano.

"We will consider eliminating the savings shares though nothing is on the table as yet," Cimbri said.

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