By Andrea Mandala and Sophie Sassard
MILAN/LONDON Jan 18 Generali has
received non-binding offers for Swiss-based private bank BSI and
U.S. reinsurance business, chief executive Mario Greco said, as
the Italian insurer seeks to strengthen its capital to meet new
Greco, who took the helm in August and aims to raise 4
billion euros ($5.3 billion) from asset sales, said on Friday
any sale could take some months.
"I am not sure that we will have closed all the sales by the
end of the first quarter. We are talking of a few months," Greco
The reinsurance business in the United States is likely to
attract a lot of interest from industry rivals, while BSI may
draw relatively fewer bidders who will be able to play hardball
Potential suitors for Generali U.S., which analysts have
valued at $500 million, include Munich Re, Swiss Re
, Zurich, Scor, Hannover Re
, RGA and Bermuda based hedge funds and
Europe's third-largest insurer, bought BSI just before the
financial crisis and has been trying to sell it for more than
two years. But Generali had until now failed to attract
significant interest, several banking sources have told Reuters.
Price has been the main sticking point since potential
buyers believe BSI is worth less than its book value of more
than 2 billion euros, two people working for possible suitors
But the new owner of the Lugano-based bank has scope to make
BSI more profitable as it has high costs and has never been
restructured by Generali's former management, one banker said.
Brazilian private bank Safra, which took control of Swiss
bank Sarasin last year, is believed to have made an offer for
BSI, two people familiar with the talks said.
Safra was not immediately available to comment.
Japan's Mizuho, Royal Bank of Canada,
which already has a wealth management business in Geneva, have
both looked at BSI, they said, but they also said these two were
not seen as potential bidders.
Julius Baer is not believed to have made an offer
for BSI after it bought Bank of America's private bank
business outside the United States last year, the people said.
Private equity firms which have invested in financial
businesses in the past such as Carlyle, KKR,
Apollo and Apax, could be interested in BSI but would
need to team up with an industry player to get regulatory
approval, bankers said.
Italian newspaper Il Sole24 said earlier on Friday that
Julius Baer, RBC, private equity firm Apax and an Asian investor
had made offer for BSI.
Il Sole24 also tipped Berkshire Hathaway, ACE, Swiss
Re, Munich Re and Hannover Re as possible suitors for the U.S.