Generali May Want RBS Units

TRIESTE, Italy (Reuters) – Italy's leading insurer Assicurazioni Generali (GASI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research) would be interested in two insurance units of UK bank RBS (RBS.L: Quote, Profile, Research) if they were up for sale, Chairman Antoine Bernheim said on Saturday.

“It would be a lie to say we would not be interested,” Bernheim told journalists after the company's annual meeting.

“We don't know if these two units are for sale although there is an interest on our part,” Bernheim said, adding “we don't know what price RBS might look for.”

Royal Bank of Scotland confirmed on Tuesday it was considering the sale of all or part of RBS Insurance — Britain's second-largest general insurer which could be worth between 5 and 8 billion pounds.

Its brands include Churchill, Direct Line and Privilege. Bernheim was answering a question about Churchill and Direct Line.

Analysts have said Generali could be a buyer along with Allianz (ALVG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), Zurich Financial Services (ZURN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) and AXA

(AXAF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research).

Generali Chief Financial Officer Raffaele Agrusti had earlier reiterated the insurer had about 2.3 billion euros of excess capital for acquisitions and could issue debt, for example, to give it total firepower of 4.5 billion to 5.0 billion euros in firepower.

(Reporting by Jo Winterbottom)