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Capital Calls Scor slanging match may have happy M&A ending

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The logo of reinsurance company Scor is seen at its Paris headquarters, in Paris, France, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

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LONDON, March 25 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Concise insights on global finance in the Covid-19 era.

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SCOR-SETTLING. France’s warring couple are at it again. The $6.6 billion Gallic insurer Scor (SCOR.PA) has accused its largest investor, mutual Covea, of “deceitful and groundless” behaviour after the latter complained to French authorities about Scor boss Denis Kessler. Following a withdrawn $9.6 billion takeover bid in 2018, Covea contends that Kessler bought 195 million euros of shares “for (the) sole purpose of artificially inflating the share price”. Another 16 million euros was allegedly spent on frivolous advisory fees.

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The two already have previous in the courtroom. Last year Covea was ordered to pay 19.6 million euros in damages related to the failed union. But Kessler himself is under pressure, too : shares have lost 16% since the approach – compared to a nearly one-tenth rise for the STOXX Europe 600 Insurance index. If the new allegations mean Kessler goes, it could open the way for a new bid. And Scor’s relatively low 11 times forward earnings multiple, according to Refinitiv data, might also persuade higher-valued rivals like Swiss Re (SRENH.S) to have a look. An unedifying fight may still have a happy shareholder ending. (By Christopher Thompson)

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Editing by George Hay and Oliver Taslic

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