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Tuesday, September 14, 1999 Published at 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK

Business: The Company File

Italian insurance giant in merger bid

Generali has interests worldwide

In the latest in a round of European financial group merger activity, Italian insurance giant Generali says it intends to bid 12.3bn euros ($12.8bn) for Italian insurer Istituto Nazionale Assicurazioni (INA).

Emanuele Minotti of Salomon Smith Barney
Generali said it would offer 140 new shares and 1,666 euros for 2,000 INA shares.

The announcement came shortly after Sanpaolo IMI bank said it was in talks about an alliance wth INA.

A spokesman for Sanpaolo IMI said the talks were "at an advanced stage" and there was no reason why they should be interrupted by Generali's announcement.

Profits up

Generali is the biggest Italian insurer and the only Italian insurance group to have significant activities abroad.

In 1988, it saw net consolidated profits rise by 68% to 893m euros after a 54% increase in premium income to 32.4bn euros.

INA has 207 branches in Italy and its 1998 net profits rose 33.2% to 395 euros.

Merger activity between financial institutions across Europe has been intense in recent weeks, partly driven by the single currency and a single interest rate.

In France, BNP took over Paribas but failed in its attempt to take control of Societe Generale.

German banking giants Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank have also been in talks over a possible merger.

Banks in Italy and Spain have also recently merged.

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