China's Fosun International Ltd to buy insurance arm of Portugal's state bank for €1B

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 10, 2014 02:15 AM EST

Portugal has selected China-based Fosun International Ltd to acquire the insurance unit of Caixa Geral de Depositos SA in a deal valued at €1 billion or $1.36 billion, Reuters reported. The deal enabled the government to surpass its privatization revenue goal.

The report said Portugal needed to undertake a series of privatizations as one of the conditions to the financial aid it received from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The most recent sale places the privatization revenue exceeding the target by 47%.

Cabinet Minister Luis Marques Guedes revealed that the government selected Fosun over a unit of Apollo Global Management, an investment fund based in the US, to acquire 80% of Portugal's biggest insurance group, Caixa Seguros e Saude SGPS SA, the report said.

A sales and purchase agreement for the insurer will be completed by Fosun within 30 days. The insurance firm has a 26% share in the domestic market.

The report said the most recent acquisition represents Fosun's move towards establishing an insurance-oriented investment conglomerate. The Chinese company is also bidding to buy Club Mediterranee, a French resort firm. Last year, it also spent $725 million for the purchase One Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York.

In a statement, Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang said the acquisition of the Portuguese insurer is a "solid step for Fosun to develop Warren Buffet's model."

The report said the sale should enable the state bank to pay back €1.65 billion or $2.24 billion in government funding received in the middle of 2012. Portugal has targeted until the middle of this year to raise money through privatization so it could pay back the bailout funds it received. Other government enterprises that are expected to be privatized include flag carrier airline TAP, national railway company Comboios de Portugal's cargo unit and portions of Aguas de Portugal, a water utility, the report said.

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