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In Play Today — Helaba, DekaBank eye merger; ING, UniCredit step up C'bank plans

S&P Global Market Intelligence presents In Play Today, a periodic summary of potential deal activity in the financial sectors of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This summary, which is displayed according to the location of a target's headquarters, is based on information obtained by S&P Global Market Intelligence and may not be inclusive of all potential deal activity.

Europe

* National Bank of Greece SA will soon begin discussions with potential investors for the sale of wholly owned insurance unit Ethniki Hellenic General Insurance SA. The bank expects to complete the sale of the unit by 2020 as part of its strategy to shift focus on core banking operations.

* Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale, also known as Helaba, and DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale are looking at a potential merger. The success of these talks largely depends on whether DekaBank's owners, which are 12 regional savings banks, can agree on a new structure for the bank. Plans to merge landesbanken face the challenge of aligning the interests of the municipal savings banks that own them and the various German regional states.

* Italy's UniCredit SpA and Netherlands-based ING Groep NV are said to have intensified efforts toward a possible takeover of Commerzbank AG, hiring investment bankers as advisers on their plans. The Italian banking giant has hired Lazard and its banker Jörg Asmussen — Germany's former deputy finance minister — along with JPMorgan. ING, meanwhile, is working informally with Perella Weinberg Partners for its possible rival bid.

* SoftBank Group Corp., through its SoftBank Vision Fund LP, has struck a deal to invest $800 million in Greensill Capital (UK) Ltd. The investment values Greensill, which provides alternative supply chain funding, at $3.5 billion.

* Generali CEO Philippe Donnet said the Italian insurer is targeting small and medium-sized insurers based in Europe to reinforce its regional presence. Generali is keen on insurers in central and eastern Europe as they are dealing with complex regulation and have a need to diversify. Big mergers involving European insurers are unlikely.

Middle East

* TPG Capital Management LP is taking over the management of a healthcare fund previously managed by collapsed Dubai-based private equity firm The Abraaj Group under a definitive deal. The U.S. private equity firm will rebrand the fund as Evercare Health Fund, which will continue to provide affordable and high-quality healthcare across Africa and South Asia. Separately, San Mateo, Calif.-based asset manager Franklin Resources Inc., also known as Franklin Templeton Investments, is negotiating exclusively to assume Abraaj's Turkish operations.

* Gulf Capital Pvt. JSC held exploratory merger talks with fellow Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Al Waha Capital PJSC as consolidation in the United Arab Emirates' banking sector gathers steam. Some clarity surrounding the merger could arise by June.

* Dubai-based Arqaam Capital Ltd. and Abu Dhabi's The National Investor Pr. J.S.C. are in talks regarding a possible merger. Arqaam would hold management control over the merged entity and its investors would hold about 40%.

Africa

* Kenya-based KCB Group PLC is looking to acquire banks in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The names of the two banks or the time frame of the acquisitions are not known.

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