Generali not planning sale of French assets to Allianz: sources

The Assicurazioni Generali logo is seen in downtown Milan, Italy, February 8, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Assicurazioni Generali GASI.MI does not intend to sell its French business, three people close to the situation said on Friday, following a report that German rival Allianz ALVG.DE was in talks with Italy's biggest insurer about a sale.

“Generali does not plan to leave France,” one of the sources said.

Earlier Bloomberg had said Allianz, Europe’s biggest insurance company, was considering making a bid for Generali’s French operations, although it was uncertain whether a deal could get the approval of competition regulators.

France accounts for about 15 percent of Generali’s gross written premiums, its third-largest market after Italy and Germany.

Generali and Allianz declined to comment on the report.

Shares in Generali jumped nearly 6 percent to 14.91 euros, to their highest level since January, before easing back to trade up 2.7 percent at 14.55 euros by 1142 GMT. Allianz’s share price was up 0.5 percent at 157.55 euros.

Allianz Chief Executive Oliver Baete has said that the German insurer is looking out for opportunities to make acquisitions but it is not easy to find attractive targets at a reasonable price.

The company said last month it could return 2.5 billion euros ($2.6 billion) from its budget for acquisitions to shareholders in the form of share buybacks.

Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro in Milan and Alexander Huebner and Kathrin Jones in Frankfurt; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Greg Mahlich