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Generali sells defensive Intesa stake; NN Group, Delta Lloyd execute merger

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

Of stakes and sales

* Generali sold 510 million ordinary shares in Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, representing 3.04% of the Italian lender's share capital. The stake, which Generali acquired in February, prevented Intesa Sanpaolo from making a substantive investment in the insurer. Generali also terminated the collateralized derivative transaction which it entered Feb. 17 to fully hedge the economic risk related to the purchase of the Intesa Sanpaolo shares.

* Sompo International's London market insurance platform has reached a definitive renewal rights agreement with Novae Syndicates Ltd. under which Sompo International is acquiring renewal rights to Novae Syndicates' financial institutions portfolio.

Done deals

* Delta Lloyd NV ceased to exist after its triangular legal merger with NN Group NV wholly owned subsidiary NN Group Bidco BV took effect. The two companies previously expected the legal merger to complete Aug. 3.

* Old Mutual Plc unit Old Mutual Wealth completed its acquisition of U.K.-based financial adviser network Caerus Capital Group.

* Caja de Seguros Reunidos, Compañía de Seguros y Reaseguros SA, or Caser, absorbed Unión del Duero Seguros Generales, the nonlife insurance division of Banco de Caja España de Inversiones SA.

Earnings scorecard

* ASR Nederland NV reported in first-quarter operating result to €191 million, up 38.4% from €138 million in the same period in 2016. The operating result in the nonlife business rose year over year to €54 million from €32 million, while the life business booked an operating result of €149 million, up from €121 million.

Game plan

* Munich Re launched the first tranche of its planned €1 billion share buyback program, in which the German firm intends to repurchase up to 11 million shares. The first tranche, which has a maximum total purchase price of up to €360.0 million, will be carried out until Aug. 30.

* U.S.-based commercial property insurer FM Global became a licensed insurer in Luxembourg, allowing it to continue providing insurance coverage throughout the European Economic Area. Executive Vice President Chris Johnson will serve as the managing director of FM Insurance Europe SA, a newly formed subsidiary.

The bigger picture

* Ireland's plan to create a fund to cover some of the costs of compensation claims in the event that an insurer collapses could increase motor insurance premiums in the coming years, according to The Irish Times. Under a new government plan, Ireland's Insurance Compensation Fund would cover 65% of individual liabilities, or €825,000, whichever is lower, with the remainder to be shouldered by the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland, or MIBI. To cover its share of the cost, the MIBI would need to build up a fund of up to €150 million.

* The first quarter of 2017 marked five consecutive quarters of moderating renewal rate decreases and 16 consecutive quarters of global average rate declines amid abundant capacity and competitive underwriting environment, according to a report by Marsh LLC. Global composite renewal rates fell by 2.3% on average in the first quarter, compared with a decline of 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2016 and a drop of 3.2% in the third quarter of 2016.

* A merger of the European Banking Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority is "unlikely to create significant synergies" in core areas of regulation and supervision, EBA Chairman Andrea Enria said, adding that he did not foresee any material benefit in terms of cost reduction in corporate functions, as resources in these areas are "already very slim."

* The European Securities and Markets Authority has set out guidelines for firms seeking to relocate entities, activities and functions from the U.K., which is in the process of leaving the EU. The principles include no automatic recognition of existing authorizations if a business relocates and no outsourcing or delegation to third countries except under strict conditions.

In other news

* The management board of PZU SA recommended a dividend payout of 1.4 Polish zlotys per share from the insurer's 2016 net profit, with the total value of the planned dividend payout reaching 1.2 billion zlotys.

* Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. have recommended that Willis Towers Watson Plc shareholders vote against a say-on-pay proposal for CEO John Haley, saying that the proxy advisory firm had improperly calculated the equity award package for Haley.

* NN Group named Anna Grzelonska CEO of NN Romania, replacing Marius Popescu, who was appointed CEO of Turkish unit NN Hayat ve Emeklilik in April.

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Sterling, bonds set for swings as Brexit clouds ballot outlook: Investors are buying more insurance against falls in the pound sterling, as the U.K.'s opposition Labour Party has narrowed what once seemed an insurmountable poll lead for the governing Conservative Party in the run-up to the June 8 election.

Macron likely to further delay EU financial transaction tax: The long-awaited European financial transaction tax will likely be delayed once more with the arrival of new French President Emmanuel Macron, who has argued that the U.K. must agree to the plan if it wants to stay in the single market after Brexit.