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In Play Today — PE firm eyes US benefits provider sale; E*TRADE open to buyout

S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a periodic summary of potential deal activity in the financial sector, including rumored transactions. This summary is based on information obtained on a best-efforts basis and may not be inclusive of all potential deal activity.

Financial Services

* Asset management giant BlackRock Inc., which owns 10% of Institutional Capital Network Inc., or iCapital, is exploring giving up its takeover rights for the financial technology company, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. BlackRock negotiated the right to buy the entire company in two to five years when it invested in iCapital in 2016. The companies are now discussing a deal in which BlackRock would remain iCapital's biggest minority stockholder and BlackRock's debt positions in the company would be converted into equity, according to the Journal's sources.

* E*TRADE Financial Corp. remains open to a possible buyout, CEO Michael Pizzi said at a conference. The online broker has long been a rumored takeout target, but the company has not yet been approached with a buyout offer, Pizzi said. Pizzi's comments came in the wake of Charles Schwab Corp.'s announcement that it will acquire rival TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. — both major E*TRADE competitors.

Insurance

* New York-based buyout firm Centerbridge Partners LP has hired Barclays PLC to manage the potential sale of U.S. managed vision care benefits company Versant Health Inc., sources told Reuters. Other medical benefits providers and private equity firms could emerge as potential suitors of the business, which could fetch a valuation of more than $2 billion, including debt, according to the report.

* Discussions over Italian insurer Generali's possible acquisition of the majority of MetLife Inc.'s European assets have stalled because of differences over price, Reuters reported, citing four sources. Generali approached MetLife for a possible deal earlier in 2019 and remains interested in buying a significant portion of MetLife's European portfolio, including businesses in Britain, France, Italy and Eastern Europe. But the parties have failed to come to an agreement due to concerns over the price and structure of the deal.

To see the previous edition of "In Play Today," click here.

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