SAO PAULO, July 2 (Reuters) - Brazilian lender Itau Unibanco Holding SA is in exclusive talks with a potential buyer of its high-risk corporate insurance unit, with the roughly $1.5 billion real ($678.7 million) transaction set to close as early as this week, according to a securities filing on Wednesday.
Itau, Brazil's largest non-government bank, did not name the potential buyer. Local newspaper Valor Economico cited global insurance firm ACE Ltd in a Wednesday report, but this was unconfirmed.
The unit, which specializes in offering insurance coverage for giant corporate projects in high-risk segments such as oil and gas and infrastructure, has revenue of about 1.7 billion reais annually and clients including state-oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA.
Government officials expected policy underwriting in the high-risk and reinsurance segments to grow three times as fast as overall economic growth through 2015. But with economic growth trailing the government's 4.5 percent average target between 2011 and 2014, returns and policy underwriting have suffered. ($1 = 2.21 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Asher Levine and Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)