(Adds Solidium, analyst comments, background)
By Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Finland’s state investment fund Solidium has sold 2.3 percent of Sampo and analysts said the price indicated strong market interest in the insurance and investment company.
Solidium, which now owns 11.9 percent of Sampo, said it raised 450 million euros ($618 million) from the accelerated offering at 35.65 euros per share. That was 3 percent lower than Monday’s market closing price.
“It’s a rather decent price. Usually such discounts stand at around 5 percent,” said Antti Saari, analyst at Pohjola Markets.
By 1022 GMT, Sampo shares traded down 1.9 percent from Monday at 36.06 euros.
“It looks like investors remain confident in this stock,” Saari said.
Sampo shares have climbed about 45 percent in 18 months as the group was boosted by hefty dividends from its large investment in Nordic bank Nordea.
One of the largest companies on the Helsinki bourse, Sampo has a stake in Nordic property and casualty insurance company If, a 21 percent interest in Nordea and 25 percent of Danish insurer Topdanmark.
Solidium’s move was expected as the Finnish government has been looking to boost revenues via share sales and Sampo is not seen as a politically sensitive company.
Solidium also offered bonds on Tuesday exchangeable for Sampo shares, which brought it 350 million euros.
Solidium Managing Director Kari Jarvinen said the proceeds would be used to pay dividends for the state as well as equity investments. The fund promised recently to spend 200 million euros for a restructuring of Outokumpu, a troubled stainless steel company of which it owns about 30 percent. ($1 = 0.7285 euros) (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Mark Potter and Tom Pfeiffer)