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Generali : talks of joint venture in Russia well advanced

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The chief executive of Assicurazioni Generali said talks on an alliance with Russian bank VTB were at an advanced stage.

“Our priority is to make an insurance accord (with VTB). We are discussing it and we are in a rather advanced stage, Giovanni Perissinotto told reporters on Wednesday.

Italy’s largest insurer has been looking at Russia as part of its expansion into central and eastern Europe and other emerging markets, including Asia, in a strategy favoured by financial markets.

The venture with VTB, Russia’s second-biggest lender, would not only be for bancassurance — sales of insurance via bank branches — but a partnership allowing distribution through various channels, he said, adding Generali would like a 51 percent stake in the joint venture.

Cross-shareholdings between Generali and VTB are not required, he said. “It makes us feel good that an important, well-managed group like VTB shows interest in our shares, but we are not looking for cross-shareholdings.”

Generali took a 1 percent stake in VTB this year. VTB chief executive Andrei Kostin told Reuters on Tuesday he was interested in buying a sizeable stake in Generali.

Source : Reuters