Italy’s biggest insurer Assicurazioni Generali may invest in Italian Banks as it seeks to raise capital

In an interview Wednesday, Assicurazioni Generali chairman Cesare Geronzi said the firm is mulling an investment in Italian banks as it seeks to raise capital. Assicurazioni Generali is Italy’s biggest insurer. Speaking to the Financial Times, Geronzi said the firm would however not be a consolidator in the Italian system through its web of cross-shareholdings.

According to Geronzi, Generali may ponder investing further in Italian banks should it seek to raise capital as expected during implementation of new Basel III requirements. For Geronzi, Generali’s chief objective is to invest in South America, alongside any other opportunities it is evaluating. He further stated that the insurer would consider acquisitions for the South America strategy.

However, Geronzi reiterated there are lots of opportunities within Italy, in which the firm’s business is 50 per cent non-life. Generali is keen on expanding its asset management business, he said, adding that there are opportunities for mergers among smaller Italian financial institutions.

However, Geronzi said he did not expect deals among larger groups including a speculated tie-up between Mediobanca, which owns 14 per cent of Generali, and UniCredit. A deal between Mediobanca and Generali is "out of the question", he said. He however did not rule out backing government infrastructure projects. Geronzi denied speculation the changes had prompted tension with chief executive Giovanni Perisinotti by diminishing the latter's role.

Assicurazioni Generali SpA is an Italy-based company engaged in the insurance and financial services sector. The Company acts as the parent to the Generali Group (the Group). The Group operates in all branches of insurance, from mass risks, such as motor vehicle third-party liability insurance, to sophisticated covers for the industrial sector, and simple household insurance to the complex needs of multinationals.

Its product offerings also include a range of range of financial and real estate services and asset management. Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. is the largest insurance company in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. In 2010, Assicurazioni Generali Group was the second largest insurance group in the world by revenue after AXA.

Generali operates primarily in Europe, Middle East and East Asia, with large market shares in Italy, Poland, Germany (under the name of Generali Deutschland), France, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Israel, Japan, China and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with secondary operations in Latin America, for example, in Panama.

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