Italy’s Banco BPM picks Credit Agricole for non-life insurance talks

MILAN, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Banco BPM ( BAMI.MI ) has chosen its top investor Credit Agricole ( CAGR.PA ) to begin exclusive talks on a non-life insurance partnership, Italy’s third-biggest bank said on Tuesday.

The French bank, which holds 9.2% of Banco BPM, beat a rival bid by insurer AXA ( AXAF.PA ) in a deal that sources said was expected to be worth around 300 million euros ($310 million) be worth

Credit Agricole said it invested in Banco BPM to expand their commercial partnerships currently centered on consumer credit.

Praised by analysts for its strategy on insurance, Banco BPM has decided to acquire full control of an insurance business with Covea by buying out the French partner.

It plans to do the same with regard to an insurance partnership it currently has with Cattolica, now a unit of Generali ( GASI.MI ).

In August, it said it would hold on to its life insurance business, while continuing the search for a new partner for the non-life division.

Non-life is more attractive than life to potential bidders.

Banco BPM said the exclusive talks were aimed at establishing the terms on which Credit Agricole Assurances will buy a majority stake in its non-life insurance business.

It currently comprises the non-life operations of the former Covea joint venture, to which Banco BPM will add the non-life business with Cattolica once it exercises the buyback option. ($1 = 0.9681 euro)

Reporting by Andrea Mandala; Editing by Valentina Za

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