Telecom Italia and Unipol Assicurazioni have reached agreement for transfer of the majority stake in the Meie Group.
Under the terms of the agreement signed today, Saiat - 100 percent owned by Telecom Italia - is selling 51.2% of Meie Assicurazioni and 51% of Meie Vita (the remaining 49% of which is owned Meie Assicurazioni) for a total close to 670 billion lire.
The sale was conducted as a competitive auction. Bids were submitted by leading Italian and international insurance companies.
Brokered by merchant bank Flemings on behalf of Telecom Italia, the initial 20 expressions of interest were reduced to a shortlist of three. The Unipol bid was the most competitive. In 1999 the Gruppo Meie took in premiums worth around 1,200 billion lire (up 28% on 1998). Income of 274 billion lire came from the life assurance business (up 34%), generating aggregate net profits of 22 billion lire (up 122%). The company supplies services to around 700,000 customers through 400 agencies, and employs 500 staff.
Backed by Deutsche Bank, acquisition of Meie will enable the Unipol Group to expand its customer base, as it pursues the twin objectives of increasing its size in the insurance market, and accelerating expansion into banking services and savings management through Unipol Banca, Unipol Sim and Unipol Fondi. The company is keen to realize the expansion prospects opened up by the Meie distribution network, not to mention its consolidated relations with the Telecom Italia Group, as it enhances the value of the Meie brand within the Unipol Group.
For Telecom Italia, the sell-off of its participation in the Meie group is a major step in the process of refocusing the Group on its core business.
Transfer of shares and payment are due to take place on receipt of authorization from the ISVAP and the Antitrust Authority.