UPDATE 1-Generali looking at alternatives to a BSI sale, including IPO - sources

Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:06pm EDT

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MILAN Oct 22 (Reuters) - Italian insurer Generali is looking at alternatives to the sale of its Swiss private banking business BSI, including an initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

A planned sale stalled months ago because the parties could not agree on pricing, Reuters reported on Aug. 1.

"Generali is encountering quite some difficulty and therefore is considering possible alternatives," said one of the people familiar with the situation. "An IPO is surely one of them, but nothing has been decided or planned."

The sale of BSI, which has an estimated book value of 2.3 billion Swiss francs ($2.5 billion), is important for Generali as the proceeds would help it shore up its capital and cut debt.

Generali declined to comment.

A second person said that "one of the possible alternatives could be the sale of BSI in bits and pieces, or an IPO, which could happen in the fall of 2014".

A third source said the sale was no longer as urgent as it was a few months ago, since Generali had already raised more than half of the 4 billion euros it had targeted in asset sales by the end of 2015. (Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro and Oliver Hirt, writing by Jennifer Clark; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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