Wed, Feb 01, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Allianz interested in acquiring Australian competitor: report


German insurance heavyweight Allianz SE is interested in buying Australian competitor QBE Insurance Group Ltd, German business daily Handelsblatt reported on Monday, although the second company denies talks are going on.

Allianz CEO Oliver Baete met with QBE counterpart John Neal in late December last year to discuss a possible tie-up, the newspaper reported, citing financial industry sources.

Allianz could offer as much as A$15 (US$11.34) per share, the sources told Handelsblatt, a 20 percent markup on QBE’s price in Sydney on Friday last week that would value the firm at A$20 billion.

The Baete-Neal meeting was “friendly,” but there is no concrete offer on the table from Allianz so far, the newspaper added.

In a brief statement issued on Monday, QBE said “it is not in discussions with Allianz or any other potential buyer.”

An Allianz spokesman refused to comment on the report when contacted by reporters.

The Munich, Germany-based insurer is the focus of intense media speculation about its possible takeover targets.

Along with France’s Axa SA and Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, Allianz was last week reported to be considering a joint takeover of Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali SpA, which has been weakened by the departure of chief Mario Greco early last year.

Baete said in a recent interview that the group was interested in making one or several acquisitions, but insisted that any takeover target must be of significant size, at a good price and amicable.

“The risks of such large takeovers are so great, that you really need a friendly relationship with the management to make it a success,” he told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in the middle of last month.

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