July 11, 2013 / 8:36 PM / in 4 years

Phoenix Group in talks to merge with Swiss Re unit -Sky News

(Reuters) - British specialist life insurer Phoenix Group (PHNX.L) is in talks about merging with a unit of Swiss Re SRENH.VX in a deal that could be worth 3 billion pounds ($4.53 billion), Sky News reported on Thursday.

The talks between Phoenix and Admin Re are at an early stage and could still fall through before a deal can be reached, Sky News said. A merger of the two would create a business with more than 100 billion pounds under management and close to 10 million policy holders.

The exact structure of the merger has not been finalized, Sky News reported on its website, but one scenario being discussed involves Phoenix issuing new shares to Swiss Re that would result in the Swiss reinsurer becoming a major shareholder in the British company.

Phoenix, which makes money by buying life insurers that are closed to new customers and running them more efficiently, is being advised by Deutsche Bank while Swiss Re has hired JP Morgan Cazenove to advise it on the deal, Sky reported.

Earlier this year, Phoenix, which was formerly known as Pearl and was forced into a financial restructuring in 2009, said it was ready to consider acquisitions for the first time in two years after hammering out easier terms with banks.

Phoenix declined to comment on the report.

Swiss Re could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular business hours, but the Zurich-based company declined comment to Sky News. ($1 = 0.6615 British pounds)

Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Bangalore; Editing by Leslie Adler

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