Tags: Direct Line | Europe | Mapfre | sale

Direct Line Sells European Units to Mapfre for $701 Million

Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 06:20 AM

Direct Line Insurance Group Plc sold its German and Italian businesses to Spain’s Mapfre SA for 550 million euros ($701 million) as the company pares back its international operations to cut costs and pay a dividend.

The U.K.’s biggest home and auto insurer expects a pretax gain from the sale of about 160 million pounds ($261 million) and will return “substantially all” of the net proceeds to shareholders, it said in a statement Thursday.

Mapfre, Spain’s largest insurer, said it will gain 1.6 million clients from the transaction and 714 million euros of premiums. Direct Line, which was spun off from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc over the past two years, rose as much as 3.1 percent in London. It’s the latest British insurer to sell assets abroad as it strives to meet a cost-saving target of about 1 billion pounds this year.

“Proceeds received are ahead of market expectations,” William Hardcastle, an analyst at Bank of America Corp. in London, wrote in a note this morning. “We continue to be positive on the stock” because Direct Line “continues to return its surplus capital, with minimal incremental capital required each year.”

 

Profit Share

The sale price is about about 1.9 times 2013 net asset value, Direct Line said. Direct Line shares surged on Aug. 1 after the company said it was in talks to sell the businesses. The international unit generated 13.4 million pounds of operating profit in the half year, compared with 249.1 million pounds for the entire group, the company said at the time.

“The sale of our international businesses to Mapfre is a good result for all of our stakeholders,” Direct Line Chief Executive Officer Paul Geddes said in the statement. “Our U.K. personal and commercial lines businesses are continuing to implement the many initiatives we have under way.”

Direct Line said that it had a “strong” risk-based capital coverage ratio of about 149 percent as of June 30, which allows it to return most of the proceeds to shareholders. Regulatory approval for the deal is expected to take three to four months, it said.

RSA Insurance Group Plc has raised more than 600 million pounds from asset sales in eastern Europe, Canada and China this year, while Aviva Plc has reduced its markets to 17 from 28 in 2011.

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Direct Line Insurance Group sold its German and Italian businesses to Spain's Mapfre for 550 million euros ($701 million) as the company pares back its international operations to cut costs and pay a dividend.
Direct Line, Europe, Mapfre, sale
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2014-20-25
Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 06:20 AM
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