Allianz Said to Lead Race for Aviva’s $2.9 Billion Polish Unit

Allianz SE, Europe’s largest insurer, has emerged as the frontrunner to buy the Polish operations of Aviva Plc in one of the most competitive insurance auctions in the region this year, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The British insurer could announce a sale of the Polish unit, which could fetch about 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion), in the near future, the people said, asking to not be identified because the talks are private. Allianz is the leading suitor after a bidding war with Dutch insurer NN Group NV and Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali SpA, according to the people.

In addition to tabling a competitive bid, the German insurer offers more deal certainty because of a lower risk of antitrust objections in Poland, one of the people said. Final negotiations are ongoing and the outcome could still change, the people said.

Representatives for Generali, Allianz and Aviva declined to comment. NN couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The sale would complete Aviva Chief Executive Officer Amanda Blanc’s plan to boost the London-listed insurer’s struggling share price by offloading non-core assets. Blanc has wasted little time since taking the helm in July, agreeing to sell a majority stake in its Singapore business for about $2 billion and pushing ahead with the disposal of units in Italy, France and now Poland.

Aviva’s Polish business consists mainly of life insurance and pensions, and also has a non-life unit and a distribution agreement with ING Groep NV and Banco Santander SA.

Insurers have been trying to scale down their life-insurance businesses in recent years amid low interest rates. But Aviva’s Polish unit is generating high returns because it doesn’t sign policies with guaranteed returns.

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