ETHNIKI Insurance sale: four investors are bidding for the majority stake

Four investors submitted binding bids to acquire a majority stake in Greek lender National Bank's (NBG) insurance unit, ETHNIKI Insurance, reports Reuters quoting a banking source close to the deal.

ETHNIKI's sale is part of a larger restructuring plan agreed by Greece's second largest lender by assets with regulators, to exit from non-banking operations. "Four binding offers were submitted," the banker said without providing further details. "The aim is to sell at least a 75% stake in the unit."

The bidders were: the Chinese conglomerate FOSUN, Shanghai-based GONGBAO and WINTIME and John Calamos' insurance start-up EXIN Partners, the banker said. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are advising NBG on the sale.

Founded in 1891, ETHNIKI Insurance is the oldest insurer in Greece and is fully owned by the National Bank of Greece (NBG). It provides life and non-life insurance products. Apart from its large domestic network, the company has established subsidiaries in Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Romania and Cyprus, also included under scope of the above mentioned restructuring plan.

Last year it sold United Bulgarian Bank to Belgium's KBC Group in a EUR 610 million deal. In March, NBG sold its entire 99.8% stake in its South Africa Bank of Athens (SABA) subsidiary to AFGRI Holdings. In 2015, NBG clinched a deal to sell Turkish unit Finansbank to Qatar National Bank for EUR 2.75 billion as part of moves to plug a capital shortfall identified by European Central Bank stress tests. NBG has also sold stakes held directly or indirectly in 11 funds to Deutsche Bank Private Equity and Goldman Sachs Asset Management for EUR 288 million.

In the Greek insurance landscape, ETHNIKI Insurance is the largest insurance company, with a 24.3% market share on the life insurance segment, 18% of the non-life business and approximately 30% of the group life, health, disability, and pension market. According to the IGP (International Group Program) website, ETHNIKI Insurance has total assets of EUR 2.906 billion, total income of EUR 947 million and an annual premium volume of EUR 1,021 million. Premium volume for group business is EUR 169 million. The ETHNIKI retains 95% of its group business on an annual basis.

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