June 8, 2013 / 10:12 AM / in 5 years

Warren Buffett's Berkshire eying Unipol insurance assets: report

MILAN (Reuters) - Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) is interested in buying assets that Italian insurer Unipol (UNPI.MI) must sell as part of a merger with peer Fondiaria-SAI FOSA.MI, business daily Il Sole 24 Ore said on Saturday.

The paper said Berkshire was eying commercial assets belonging to Milano Assicurazioni ADMI.MI, a unit controlled by Fondiaria.

Unipol has been forced by Italy’s anti-trust authority to sell portfolio assets with premiums totaling around 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion) as part of its rescue of the Fondiaria-SAI group.

The merger, which will create Italy’s No. 2 insurer, is expected to close by the end of the year.

    Unipol CEO Carlo Cimbri said in May there had been 10-15 expressions of interest for the assets, including from Allianz (ALVG.DE), Axa (AXAF.PA), Aviva (AV.L) and Zurich ZURN.VX.

    Insurance accounted for roughly a quarter of Berkshire’s revenues in 2012. Buffett’s investments are viewed by many investors as a seal of approval from one of the world’s most respected businessmen.

    Non-binding offers for the Unipol assets are expected next Friday, Il Sole said.

    Neither Unipol nor Berkshire Hathaway Inc were immediately available for a comment. ($1 = 0.7564 euros)

    Reporting By Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Matthew Tostevin

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