UK insurer RSA eyes $585 million placing: FT

LONDON Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:48am EST

A sign of RSA insurance company is pictured outside its office in London December 13, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A sign of RSA insurance company is pictured outside its office in London December 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

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LONDON (Reuters) - British insurer RSA is sounding out institutional investors to raise as much as 350 million pounds ($585.59 million) in a emergency share placing that would allow it to avoid a rights issue, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said Stephen Hester - the former RBS (RBS.L) chief who was hired to lead the RSA earlier this month - had approached top institutional investors to win their support for the "quick and easy" route of a share placing.

The newspaper said he was seriously considering the option of raising up to 10 percent of RSA's equity through a placing, although no decision had yet been taken. It added a full rights issue was still possible and RSA was also looking at disposals.

A spokeswoman for the insurer declined to comment on what she called a "speculative" story. "The review is ongoing, we'll announce the outcome of that on February 27," she said.

RSA is reeling from an accounting scandal at its Irish division that left a 200 million pound hole in its finances. The company previously has said it was considering all options to raise capital that could include the sale of business units.

($1 = 0.5977 British pounds)

(Reporting by Brenda Goh, editing by David Evans)

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