Aviva weighs bid for RSA’s UK consumer unit -sources

By Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Amy-Jo Crowley and Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) – Aviva Plc is among a small handful of insurers exploring bids for the UK consumer operations of rival RSA, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

RSA’s owner, Intact Financial Corp, said last month it was reviewing strategic options for RSA’s personal lines business, which includes home and pet insurance, to focus on commercial insurance.

Suitors have been asked to submit offers next month in an auction managed by JPMorgan, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The unit offers policies directly to consumers through its More Than brand, as well as via partnerships with high street retailers including John Lewis and Tesco.

Aviva and JPMorgan declined to comment. Intact did not respond to a request for comment.

“Intact is exploring strategic options in respect of RSA’s UK personal lines business, which may include a possible sale,” an RSA spokesperson said, adding that it expects to complete the strategic review in the fourth quarter.

For Aviva, which offers both life and general insurance, a deal would come hot on the heels of its acquisition of the UK life insurance business of AIG for 460 million pounds, its largest buy yet under CEO Amanda Blanc.

Shares in Aviva shot up 9% on Friday amid rumors the group could itself become a takeover target.

The planned divestment by RSA comes just two years after the London-based insurer was taken off the stock market and split in two by Canada’s Intact and Denmark’s Tryg, which kept the target’s Nordic portfolio.

During this time, personal lines insurers in the UK have been impacted by regulatory changes and claims inflation as the cost of living soared. This led RSA to exit the motor insurance market earlier this year ahead of the current sale.

(Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Amy-Jo Crowley and Carolyn Cohn in London; Editing by Anousha Sakoui, Kirsten Donovan)