Generali could reach deal to sell Swiss unit by end June - sources

MILAN, June 18 Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:32pm EDT

MILAN, June 18 (Reuters) - Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali could seal a deal to sell its Swiss private banking unit BSI to Brazil's Banco BTG Pactual by the end of this month, sources close to the matter said on Wednesday.

Generali, Italy's biggest insurer, has been trying to sell BSI for the past two years but bankers have said the price had proved a major stumbling block.

Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore cited market rumours on Wednesday saying the price of the deal could be between 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) and 1.6 billion euros.

One of the sources said that range was "plausible". In May, analysts said the Swiss wealth manager could be worth between 1.2 billion euros and 1.4 billion euros.

Also in May, Generali said it had granted exclusivity to BTG Pactual to negotiate the purchase of BSI.

Generali declined to comment on Wednesday.

Latin America's largest independent investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA, controlled by billionaire financier Andre Esteves, wants to add more fee-related activities to the fast-growing banking empire Esteves has built since 2009.

The sale of BSI, which has assets of 90 billion Swiss francs, is important for Generali as the proceeds would help it shore up its capital and cut debt.

"Some approvals are still needed but once those arrive things will move ahead. The deal could close by the end of the month. The board was given this message last week," one of the sources said.

"It's almost a done deal," a second source said.

Generali, which is pushing ahead with the sale of non-core assets to focus on its insurance business, has already sold about 2.6 billion euros of assets.

The insurer wrote down 217 million euros from BSI's value at the end of 2013 in a bid to pave the way for a sale.

($1 = 0.7383 Euros) (Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, additional reporting by Paola Arosio, Stefano Bernabei and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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