Exclusive: U.S. insurer American Equity explores sale - sources

(Reuters) - American Equity Investment Life Holding Co AEL.N, a U.S. provider of annuities and life insurance products, is exploring a sale after it attracted takeover interest, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company, which sells fixed index and fixed rate annuity products, is working with an investment bank as it discusses a potential sale with interested suitors, the sources said.

Reinsurance firms, such as Athene Holding Ltd ATH.N, and annuities and life insurance providers, such as FGL Holdings FG.N, could be among those expressing an interest in an acquisition of American Equity, the sources added.

The sources cautioned that no deal is certain and asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. American Equity, Athene and FGL Holdings did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

American Equity shares ended up 11.2 percent at $32.28 on the news on Tuesday, giving the company a market capitalization of $2.9 billion.

Earlier this month, American Equity reported 2018 first-quarter net income of $141 million compared with net income of $53.9 million for the first quarter of 2017.

The sector has seen plenty of dealmaking. Last year, CF Corp, a blank check company backed by Chinh Chu, a veteran dealmaker who made his name at buyout firm Blackstone Group LP BX.N, and William Foley, the non-executive chairman of the board of Fidelity National Financial Inc FNF.N, acquired FGL Holdings for $1.84 billion.

Reporting by David French in New York; editing by Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis