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In play today — Ark. bank makes offer; E*TRADE may explore sale if unable to grow

S&P Global MarketIntelligence presents a periodic summary ofpotential deal activity in the financial sector, including rumoredtransactions. This summary is based on information obtained on a best-effortsbasis and may not be inclusive of all potential deal activity.

Banking

* of Arkansasdisclosed that it submitted a nonbinding letter of intent for a Florida-based bank holdingcompany with assets of about $400 million. Home BancShares said it offered$88.5 million in cash and stock.There are 15 Florida banks with holding companies between $350million and $450 million, according to a recent S&P Global MarketIntelligence analysis.

* The list of bidders forCitigroup Inc.'s LatinAmerican operations has reportedlynarrowed. wasreported to be in exclusive talks to buy the Brazilian retail operations after outbiddingSpain-based Banco SantanderSA. The company confirmed that it was in talks regarding theBrazilian operations. Santander, on the other hand, was the sole bidder for theArgentine business, according to another news report. And news reports statedthat Toronto-based Bank of NovaScotia is still in the running for the operations in Colombia.

Also to read: ; Card issuers continue active pursuit of partnership acquisitions,launches; Report:Santander UK considering bid for MBNA; and

Financial services

* couldconsider sellingitself if its own management is unable to grow the company, said E*TRADE'sexecutive chairman, Rodger Lawson. The online brokerage has lagged its peers intrading volume and asset growth for several years. During an industryconference, Lawson indicated that the company would target additional organicgrowth of 2% to 3%.

* isworking with an adviser for a possible sale that could value the company atapproximately $4 billion, Bloomberg News reported, citing "people familiarwith the matter." The company has attracted interest from competitors,including TD Ameritrade HoldingCorp.,the sources said.

* , part of China'sHNA Group, is nearing adeal to acquire CITGroup Inc.'s aircraft leasing business, Reuters reported, citing"people familiar with the matter." The purchase price is reportedlybetween $3 billion and $4 billion. First-round bids for the unit exceeded $4 billion.

* CFO Jonathan Pruzansaid some smallacquisitions could make sense for his company.

Also to read: ; Report: Goldman Sachs to sell 15% stake in India's Max FinancialServices; GMP Capitalresponds to Richardson GMP deal speculation; and

Insurance

* The HartfordFinancial Services Group Inc. is looking to sell its U.S. variable annuity business,Talcott Resolution, Bloomberg News reported, citing "people familiar withthe matter." Apollo GlobalManagement LLC, Wilton Re Holdings Ltd., Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and arereportedly among potential buyers for the business that could fetch about $3 billion to $4 billion.

* , ,Riverstone, Armour Group HoldingsLtd and SiriusInternational Group Ltd. are said to be among potential bidders forQBE Insurance GroupLtd.'s $560 millionlegacy book, The InsuranceInsider reported. Most of the book's liabilities are related to QBE's U.S.unit, Praetorian Financial Group.

* hasagain started exploring asale of IronshoreInc. after the insurer filed for an IPO in July, The Insurance Insider reported. The Chinese conglomerate isreportedly concerned that the IPO will value Ironshore at a significantdiscount to the price at which it purchased the insurer.

* Private equity owners of ProSight Specialty Insurance Group Inc. are their stake inthe U.S. specialty carrier, The InsuranceInsider reported. GoldmanSachs Group Inc.'s private equity arm, , owns a 50.1%stake in ProSight, with the remaining being held by TPG Capital and its staff.

Also to read:U-Haul parent not looking to movesenior market-focused life insurance unit; ; ; 'Perfect storm' over last acquisition will not keep Kemper frompursuing deals; Disgruntled merchant bank claims PE firm nearing $250M investment inFla. health insurer; Report: Goldman Sachs PE arm to sell Enstar Group stake to Chineseinvestment firm; Ariel process down to final two as Fidelis bows out;Report: Centerbridge, FriedmanFleischer bid almost $2B for Highmark Health unit; and

Send comments and news leads to news@snl.com. To see the previous edition of"In Play Today," click here.

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