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Allianz reportedly mulling a Hartford bid after Chubb rejection


Allianz reportedly mulling a Hartford bid after Chubb rejection

Chubb’s $23B takeover offer for The Hartford has prompted Germany’s Allianz SE to study the feasibility of a counteroffer.

(Bloomberg) — Chubb Ltd.’s $23 billion takeover offer for Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (The Hartford) has prompted Germany’s Allianz SE to study the feasibility of a counteroffer, according to people familiar with the matter.

Europe’s biggest insurer is discussing its options with potential advisors, said the people, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. While Allianz views The Hartford as one of the remaining property and casualty insurance targets with scale in the U.S., it’s also reluctant to enter into a pricey bidding war with Chubb because of a lack of synergies between the two, the people said.

Deliberations are in an early stage and Allianz could likely decide against pursuing a deal, which would be transformational for the German financial giant that has mostly stayed away from mega transactions, the people said.

Representatives for Allianz and Hartford declined to comment on the story.

M&A activity

In spite of its dominance in Europe, Allianz has a relatively small footprint compared with Chubb or other peers in the world’s largest economy. A combination of Chubb and The Hartford could further marginalize the German insurer in the U.S., which, like other insurance companies, is battling low-interest rates, slowing growth and COVID-related business costs.

Among other European insurers, Zurich Insurance Group AG isn’t currently considering such a deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. In December, the Swiss insurer agreed to buy MetLife’s U.S. property and casualty business for $3.94 billion. A spokesperson for Zurich declined to comment.

The Hartford rejected Chubb’s proposal, putting pressure on Evan Greenberg to sweeten the offer. A post-bid jump in its stock has pushed Hartford’s market value to $24 billion as of Friday’s close. Chubb has a market cap of $71.9 billion, while Allianz is worth 87.9 billion euros ($103.7 billion).

In a press release, Chubb said: “Although we were disappointed that The Hartford chose not to engage in discussions regarding a strategic business combination, our shareholders demand of us, and we demand of ourselves, that we remain a disciplined acquiror with an uncompromising focus on the fair value of any institution that we could acquire.”

Mergers and acquisitions among property and casualty insurers have been active in recent years. It’s the biggest sector within insurance, and life coverage has fallen out of favor with many groups due to low-interest rates and higher capital requirements.

Allianz’s Chief Executive Officer Oliver Baete has largely avoided major acquisitions since taking the helm. Still, he’s been seeking new avenues of growth, including a 2.5 billion euro deal in the past week to acquire Aviva Plc’s Polish life insurance business.

The German company did pursue a takeover of property and casualty insurer XL Group Ltd. in 2018 before losing out to France’s AXA SA, which paid over $15 billion for the asset.

Allianz in the U.S.

Allianz has a life insurance business in the U.S. and mainly serves large companies in the country in the property and casualty space. It also owns U.S. bond asset manager Pacific Investment Management Co. or Pimco. Buying The Hartford could help expand the business with smaller corporations, and any deal could also help make consolidation easier in the future through synergies.

Among the financing options for such a deal include a capital increase, raising debt and offering stock. The insurer also has excess cash and could lower the amount of its annual dividend or buyback. In November, Allianz canceled a share buyback program that it had suspended earlier in the year as the hit from the COVID-19 pandemic continued to mount.

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