LISBON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - The Portuguese government has shortlisted Chinese group Fosun International and a unit of U.S. investment fund Apollo Global Management for the privatisation of the insurance arm of state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depositos.
Cabinet Minister Luis Marques Guedes told a briefing on Thursday the two groups had been picked out of five preliminary offers, while the government had contacted a total of 66 potential investors to sound out their interest in the sale of Caixa Seguros - Portugal's biggest insurer with a 30 percent market share.
The sale, which the government hopes to conclude by the end of the year, is part of a series of privatisations demanded as a condition of Portugal's EU/IMF bailout.
Marques Guedes said the approved preliminary offers were for the direct sale of the insurance unit in a single block and in the next phase the government hoped to get binding bids.
Last year, Caixa Geral sold its healthcare unit for 86 million euros ($113 million).
Portugal has won praise from EU partners for the speed and scale of its privatisation drive. It has already met its bailout target to raise 5.5 billion euros by the end of 2013 after pocketing more than 6.4 billion euros from selling stakes in two power firms and airport operator ANA.
Lisbon is still expected to privatise the national postal service CTT, flag carrier TAP, the cargo unit of the national railway company Comboios de Portugal and parts of water utility Aguas de Portugal. (Reporting By Andrei Khalip and Filipe Alves; Editing by Susan Fenton)