Warren Buffett's Berkshire eying Unipol insurance assets - report

MILAN, June 8 Sat Jun 8, 2013 6:09am EDT

MILAN, June 8 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc is interested in buying assets that Italian insurer Unipol must sell as part of a merger with peer Fondiaria-SAI, business daily Il Sole 24 Ore said on Saturday.

The paper said Berkshire was eying commercial assets belonging to Milano Assicurazioni, a unit controlled by Fondiaria.

Unipol has been forced by Italy's anti-trust authority to sell portfolio assets with premiums totaling around 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion) as part of its rescue of the Fondiaria-SAI group.

The merger, which will create Italy's No. 2 insurer, is expected to close by the end of the year.

Unipol CEO Carlo Cimbri said in May there had been 10-15 expressions of interest for the assets, including from Allianz , Axa, Aviva and Zurich.

Insurance accounted for roughly a quarter of Berkshire's revenues in 2012. Buffett's investments are viewed by many investors as a seal of approval from one of the world's most respected businessmen.

Non-binding offers for the Unipol assets are expected next Friday, Il Sole said.

Neither Unipol nor Berkshire Hathaway Inc were immediately available for a comment.