Belgian Insurer Ageas Rebuffs BE Group’s Takeover Approach

Belgian Insurer Ageas Rebuffs BE Group’s Takeover Approach

September 4, 2020

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Ageas, the Belgian insurer, has rebuffed takeover interest from an investor group fronted by former financial services dealmakers.

BE Group made an approach in recent weeks to Ageas, which has a market value of about 7 billion euros ($8.2 billion), people with knowledge of the matter said. The consortium’s backers include ex-Lazard Ltd. banker Mark Pensaert, who’s now amember of theRabobank NA supervisory board, and Alexandre Kartalis, a director of investment firm Advanced Credit Solutions, the people said.

“Ageas confirms that it received a proposition from BE Group more than a month ago,” the insurance company said in an emailed response to Bloomberg News queries. “After thorough analysis, the board of directors of Ageas decided not to engage.”

Ageas depositary receipts rose as much as 7.9% in the U.S. on Friday, their biggest intraday jump since late May.

The consortium continues its deliberations on a potential deal though it’s unclear whether they will make fresh overtures, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Kartalis and Pensaert didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Pensaert was previously chief executive officer of boutique advisory firmLeonardo & Co. and chairman of investment banking at Alantra, his LinkedInprofile shows. Kartalis has done stints at firms including Credit Suisse Group AG, Merrill Lynch & Co. and UBS Group AG, according to ACS’swebsite, which didn’t give his exact titles.

Fortis Assets

Ageas houses insurance assets previously owned by Fortis, the Belgian financial services giant that wasbailed out during the 2008 financial crisis. It sells life and non-life insurance products in its home market as well as other parts of continental Europe, the U.K. and Asia.

The company is seen as attractive due to its presence in Asia, which contributed roughly half of its net income in the latest financial year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Ageas and its partners have about 24 million customers in the region, where it operates through a series of joint ventures, according to itswebsite.

Shares of Ageas have fallen 32% in Brussels trading this year as the insurance industry grapples with low interest rates and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Ageas said last month that Hans De Cuyper, head of its core Belgian unit, will become the new chief executive officer on Oct. 22.

Ageas attractedinterest in 2018 fromFosun International Ltd., the Chinese conglomerate backed by billionaire Guo Guangchang, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time. Fosun was considering an offer for part or all of Ageas and discussed the idea of teaming up with a partner to split up the company, according to the people.

— With assistance by Dinesh Nair

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