Australia's Wesfarmers plans A$1.12 billion insurance spinoff - report

PERTH, March 8 Fri Mar 7, 2014 9:18pm EST

PERTH, March 8 (Reuters) - Wesfarmers Ltd, one of Australia's largest retailers, plans to sell its insurance broking business via an initial public offering worth around A$1.12 billion ($1.02 billion), media reported on Saturday.

The company is expected to announce the spinoff of its Oamps insurance broking business as soon as Monday, the Weekend Australian newspaper reported. It cited unidentified sources suggesting a trade sale of the unit was also being considered.

Wesfarmers' part-owned investment bank Gresham is advising on the deal and Macquarie Bank and JPMorgan are likely to be the lead managers, according to the newspaper.

Wesfarmers couldn't be reached for comment.

The coal-to-retail conglomerate, now in its 100th year, last month reported a 11.2 percent lift in profit for the first half underpinned by its strong retail businesses that include the Coles supermarket chain, Officeworks, Bunnings and Kmart.

Wesfarmers sold its insurance underwriting business to Insurance Australia Group Ltd last December for A$1.85 billion.

Oamps operates in 26 locations and is one of the largest insurance broking networks in Australasia, according to the company website.

There has been a resurgence in the initial public offer market in Australia in 2014 bolstered by a strong first-half reporting season.

Shares in Wesfarmers closed at A$43.41 on Friday, up 1.12 percent. (Reporting by Morag MacKinnon; Editing by Robert Birsel)