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Generali to sell Irish unit; Lloyd's changes strategy; Helvetia chairman resigns

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

Generali sell-off

* Generali will sell its entire stake in Irish unit Generali PanEurope to Life Company Consolidation Group for total cash proceeds at closing of up to approximately €286 million, excluding interest.

* Generali also agreed to sell two €300 million run-off portfolios from its U.K. and U.S. branches to independent insurance and reinsurance legacy specialist Compre Holdings Ltd. The Italian insurer will also reinsure the nonlife run-off portfolio of its U.S. branch with Compre as part of the deal.

More M&A-related news

* Vienna Insurance Group AG agreed to fully acquire OP Financial Group's Estonia-based unit, Seesam Insurance AS, subject to approval by local authorities.

* Allianz Group submitted to French markets regulator Autorité des marchés financiers a tender offer to acquire all the outstanding shares of trade-credit insurer Euler Hermes Group SA that it does not already own. The tender offer is expected to begin in early 2018 and close in the first quarter of the year. Euler Hermes' supervisory board deemed Allianz' simplified cash tender offer as favorable and decided to make a recommendation to shareholders to tender their shares into the offer.

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc. completed the sale of its entire stake in Rothesay Life Plc to funds managed or advised by Blackstone Group LP's tactical opportunities business, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Pvt. Ltd. and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

* U.S.-based Navigators Group Inc. agreed to acquire all shares of Belgium-based Assurances Continentales – Continentale Verzekeringen NV and Bracht, Deckers & Mackelbert NV for a cash consideration of €35 million. Navigators will also acquire all shares of Luxembourg reinsurance company Canal Re SA, a subsidiary of Assurances Continentales – Continentale Verzekeringen, as part of the deal.

* Bosnian insurer Bosna sunce osiguranje d.d filed a request with the Competition Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina to approve its purchase of a majority stake in Zovko osiguranje.

Game plans

* Lloyd's of London is no longer placing strategic emphasis on pursuing new international licenses, CEO Inga Beale and Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown said, adding that the strategy for 2018 to 2020 has been "updated and refreshed" to address the key challenges the market now faces. The changes include making it easier for business to come to Lloyd's, as well as reducing costs.

* Travelers Europe said it will apply to the Central Bank of Ireland for authorization of a new, wholly owned insurance subsidiary incorporated in Ireland. Based in Dublin, the new subsidiary will enable Travelers to serve its customers and broking partners in Ireland and across Europe when the UK exits the EU.

Changing of the guard

* Helvetia Holding AG Chairman Pierin Vincenz resigned with immediate effect, prompted by "ongoing uncertainty and the repercussions in the media" from Swiss regulator FINMA's investigation of his handling of conflicts of interest during his tenure as CEO of Raiffeisen Gruppe Switzerland. Vice Chair Doris Russi Schurter will serve as interim chair until Helvetia's April 20, 2018, annual general meeting. Following his resignation, FINMA discontinued enforcement proceedings against Vincenz.

* Allianz Group unit Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE named Bettina Dietsche, currently head of group operations at Allianz Group, as its new COO. Other changes were also made to company's management board.

* Uniqa Osterreich Versicherungen AG named Kurt Svoboda as its new CEO and management board chairman, effective immediately, while Peter Humer was named chief sales officer and a management board member.

* Topdanmark A/S appointed Lars Thykier acting CEO until the recruitment process ends for the replacement of Christian Sagild, who will resign as CEO Jan. 1, 2018.

* Jouko Pölönen will resign from OP Financial Group's central cooperative executive board and as CEO of units OP Yrityspankki Oyj and Helsingin Seudun Osuuspankki by the end of June 2018 to become president and CEO at Finnish pension fund Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Co.

In other news

* Broking and underwriting representatives have welcomed proposals by the European Commission to delay the implementation of the Insurance Distribution Directive until Oct. 1, 2018. The new rules, which govern how insurance products are sold and the information consumers should receive before signing an insurance contract, were due to take effect from Feb. 23, 2018.

* Swiss Re AG estimated total insured losses from natural and man-made catastrophes in 2017 at $136 billion, up from $65 billion in 2016. Natural catastrophes accounted for $131 billion of 2017's total insured losses, with man-made disasters accounting for the remaining $5 billion, the reinsurer said.

* Dunav Insurance Co. A.D.O. President Mirko Petrovic said the Serbia-based insurer expects its 2017 pretax profit to reach 1.25 billion Serbian dinars, up by 20% year over year, SEENews reported. The company also expects to end 2017 with gross premiums of over €200 million, up 8% year over year, with 11% growth in life insurance premiums and a 7% hike anticipated in nonlife insurance premiums, Petrovic added.

* Aegon NV completed its previously announced share buyback program, under which it repurchased a total of 51,864,626 common shares at an average price of €5.09 apiece between Oct. 2 and Dec. 15. The Dutch insurance group said the repurchased shares will be held as treasury shares and will be used to cover future stock dividends.

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

European banks, insurers can continue to operate as branches in UK: Prudential regulators at the Bank of England will allow European Economic Area-based banks, insurers and clearing houses to operate branches in the U.K. if a cooperative relationship endures between the EU and the U.K.

UK regulator to change how it vets non-UK insurer branches: The Prudential Regulation Authority will continue to allow EU-based insurers to set up branches after Brexit, but it proposed changes to the way it authorizes them.

Hastings, Esure outperform peers in tough UK motor insurance market: The listed U.K. motor insurers outperformed because of their fast growth in gross written premiums and policy counts compared with their peers — partly thanks to the price increases spurred by the cut in the personal injury discount rate, or the Ogden rate.

Some insurtech firms win funds from incumbents, while some go it alone: Some of the world's largest insurers helped raise funds for insurtech startups in 2017, lending more credibility to the space and nudging the industry toward accepting newer technologies like artificial intelligence and big data.