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Blackstone, GIC lead buyout of Goldman's Rothesay Life stake

GIC, together with several Asia-based investors, has agreed to acquire Hong Kong-based MassMutual Asia Ltd from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.

[LONDON] Goldman Sachs has sold its remaining stake in British pensions insurance business Rothesay Life to a trio of existing investors a decade after setting up the company.

Blackstone Group, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC have agreed to buy out Goldman's 32.7 per cent stake for an undisclosed sum.

"We look forward with confidence to taking advantage of the considerable growth opportunities we see in the sector," Rothesay chief executive Addy Loudiadis said.

Demand from companies to offload the risks associated with their pension scheme liabilities has grown in recent years, with insurers Legal & General and Aviva looking to cash in.

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L&G on Wednesday said it had written £1.6 billion (S$2.837 billion) in so-called 'bulk annuities' in the first half of 2017, up from 685 million a year earlier.

GIC and Blackstone will become Rothesay's biggest shareholders and MassMutual will "substantially" increase its stake, Rothesay said. It did not say how big their investments would be.

GIC and Blackstone previously had each owned 26.5 per cent of the company while MassMutual held 6.5 per cent.

Specialist pensions liabilities insurer Rothesay's clients include the pensions schemes of British Airways, Holiday Inn-owner InterContinental Hotels Group and bingo hall operator Rank.

It was founded in 2007 by Goldman and had assets under management of £23.7 billion as of the end of 2016.

Last year, new business volumes grew by 89 per cent to £6.6 billion while its pretax profit fell to £328 million from £347 million.

A spokesman for the company said its 2016 results gave it an embedded value, the present value of the company's future profits plus the adjusted current value of its assets, of about £2.2 billion.