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UK's Prudential denies Asia sale talk; Sampo names new CFO; earnings roll in


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UK's Prudential denies Asia sale talk; Sampo names new CFO; earnings roll in

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week.

On the deal table

* Prudential PLC CEO Mike Wells denied that the insurer was in any talks to sell its Asian operation and said the company does not have any imminent plans to follow Axa in spinning off its U.S. business, amid rumors that companies are interested in buying the separate parts of the life insurer. Chinese insurer Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. has reportedly looked at acquiring Prudential's Asian business, according to Bloomberg News. Prudential's profit after tax in the first half fell 10% year over year to £1.36 billion, largely because of a £513 million pretax loss on the reinsurance of £12 billion of U.K. bulk annuities to Rothesay Life.

* Aviva PLC's Aviva Life and Pensions U.K. Ltd. agreed to a longevity risk reinsurance transaction with U.S.-based Prudential Financial Inc.'s Prudential Retirement. Prudential Insurance Co. of America will assume longevity risk for approximately £1 billion in pension liabilities as part of the transaction.

* Aegon NV agreed to divest its last remaining substantial block of life reinsurance business to Scor SE unit Scor Global Life SE. Under the terms of the agreement, Aegon's Transamerica life subsidiaries will reinsure approximately $700 million of liabilities through SCOR Global Life.

* Italy-based Unipol Gruppo SpA closed the sale of its 63.39% stake in Arca Vita SpA to unit UnipolSai Assicurazioni SpA after receiving authorization from supervisory authorities. The consideration for the deal amounted to €475 million. The company also reported first-half consolidated net profit attributable to owners of the parent of €481.7 million, compared to the year-ago loss of €488.6 million.

* Great-West Lifeco Inc. subsidiary Irish Life Group Ltd. completed the acquisition of a strategic stake in Ireland-based independent financial consultancy Invesco Ltd. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Earnings season

* Zurich Insurance Group AG reported first-half after-tax net income attributable to shareholders of $1.79 billion, up from $1.50 billion in the prior-year period. The recent spate of wildfires and extreme weather in North America and Europe has not hit the group's agricultural business, CFO George Quinn said.

* Munich Re Co. reported second-quarter consolidated profit attributable to equity holders of €724 million, down slightly from €729 million a year earlier.

* Legal & General Group PLC's first-half profit attributable to equity holders dropped to £771 million from £946 million in the same period of 2017. The company revealed that it is expecting to close £7 billion worth of U.K. pension risk transfer deals, also known as bulk annuity deals, in the second half, and is actively quoting on £20 billion of business.

* Hannover Re reported second-quarter group net income of €281.9 million, up from €270.2 million in the year-ago quarter. Meanwhile, the reinsurer's problem with its loss-making legacy U.S. mortality business "should be largely solved within 2018," CEO Ulrich Wallin told analysts.

* Standard Life Aberdeen PLC reported first-half profit attributable to equity holders of £185 million under International Financial Reporting Standards, down from the restated £292 million in the prior-year period.

* Ageas SA/NV reported a second-quarter net result attributable to shareholders of €193.5 million, up from €173.4 million a year earlier. The company also announced a €200 million share buyback program.

Personnel moves

* Sampo Oyj CFO Peter Johansson will retire with effect from Jan. 1, 2019. Knut Arne Alsaker, CFO of business area If P&C Group, will take over from Johansson the same day. The Finnish insurer also reported second-quarter group profit attributable to owners of the parent of €586 million, up from €375 million in the year-ago period.

* Zurich Insurance Group named Saad Mered CEO of Zurich Canada, effective Oct. 1. Mered is currently chief claims officer for Zurich Insurance Group.

* GlobalCapital Plc appointed Ezekiel Saliba CFO, replacing Teuta Oruci-Bakalli, who stepped down July 27 after a few months in the role. Prior to joining GlobalCapital, Saliba served as group-wide financial controller of global software house ESW Capital.

In other news

* Legal & General Group will offer lifetime mortgages to customers of Virgin Money Holdings (UK) PLC toward the end of their interest-only home loan terms under a five-year agreement, Reuters reported.

* Munich Re will cease investing in securities of companies that generate more than 30% of their sales from coal-related business, Reuters reported, citing management board Chairman Joachim Wenning.

* Standard Life Aberdeen will repurchase up to a maximum of £175 million of its ordinary shares between Aug. 9 and Nov. 21.

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Ageas eyes acquisitions in Belgium, Portugal to boost nonlife market share: Ageas is comfortable with its positions in the two countries' life markets, but would consider deals to build out its nonlife presence, potentially including Belgian insurer Fidea should China's troubled Anbang look to sell it, CEO Bart De Smet said.

Munich Re is growing responsibly, CFO says: The company is confident in its growth strategy despite changes in business and mixed second-quarter results, said CFO Jörg Schneider.

L&G CEO defends company culture following complaints about asset management arm: Nigel Wilson described the insurance group's culture as "positive" and "supportive" as analysts asked about alleged compliance and risk failures at Legal & General Investment Management.