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Axa said to mull US$177m sale of Greek business to Generali

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Axa is in talks to sell its Greek operations to Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali, according to people familiar with the matter, as part of its plans to ditch business lines deemed surplus to requirements.

[PARIS] Axa is in talks to sell its Greek operations to Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali, according to people familiar with the matter, as part of its plans to ditch business lines deemed surplus to requirements.

The two companies and their advisers are in discussions about a deal for the unit, which offers life and general insurance products and could be valued at around 150 million euros (S$243.2 million), the people said. No final decisions have been taken, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private.

Representatives for Axa and Generali declined to comment.

Axa currently sells insurance products in Greece through a long-term distribution agreement with Alpha Bank. The business serves 576,000 customers in the country and generates revenue of more than 160 million euros, according to its website.

Axa is seeking to raise funds by divesting peripheral operations under chief executive officer Thomas Buberl, who wants to focus on property and casualty insurance following a US$15.3 billion purchase of XL Group in 2018. Paris-listed Axa is considering the sale of its business in Singapore and a general insurance venture in Malaysia, Bloomberg News has reported.

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The company is also exploring ways to shore up its finances amid the pressures of the coronavirus crisis. Profit at Axa sank in the first half as it booked a 1.5 billion-euro charge for claims related to Covid-19. It warned of further shocks from the pandemic, scrapped growth targets and cancelled a payout to shareholders.

Axa's shares were down 30 per cent this year through Thursday, giving it a market value of around 43 billion euros.

Generali CEO Philippe Donnet said in July that the current economic crisis also presented new opportunities. Mr Donnet said Generali had as much as 3 billion euros earmarked for acquisitions and would consider mid-size deals in the insurance and asset management sectors.

Generali last month abandoned exploratory talks about an acquisition of US asset manager BrightSphere Investment Group  because of differing opinions on valuation, people familiar with the matter said.

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