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International groups vie for acquisition of Polish insurer

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Major international groups are vying for the acquisition of Polish insurance company Warta from Belgium’s KBC for a sum  estimated at between 233 and 350 million euros, a report said Saturday.   

The Polish financial daily Parkiet, quoting a source in Brussels, said they  included Zurich of Switzerland, Japan’s Sompo, Vienna Insurance, Germans  Allianz and Talanx, Italian Generali and France’s Axa.

It said Warta, Poland’s third-largest insurance company, could change hands  early next year.

KBC is being forced to divest assets under the oversight of the European  Commission after the banking and insurance company had to be bailed out by the Belgian government during the global financial crisis of 2008.    In July it received EU approval to sell off its Polish units Warta and  Kredyt Bank.

KBC announced on Monday a deal to sell its Luxembourg offshoot KBL to a  Qatar investment group for 1.05 billion euros ($1.41 billion), finding a new buyer after a deal with India’s Hinduja group fell through.

KBC group chief executive Jan Vanhevel said the sale will allow the Belgian  bank to release capital, reduce its risk profile and further focus on its core markets in Belgium and central and eastern Europe.

The transaction will release around 700 million euros in capital for KBC,  increasing the bank’s tier-1 capital ratio by 0.6 percent.

European banks have been trying to bolster their capital to meet new international standards and to help them cope as the eurozone debt crisis makes funding more difficult.

Warsaw, Oct 15, 2011 (AFP)