RSA Said to Plan Sale of Central and Eastern European Assets

Jan 23, 2014 10:24 am ET

(Updates with shares from in fourth paragraph.)

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- RSA Insurance Group Plc, the British insurer looking to raise capital, is planning the sale of assets in central and eastern Europe, according to three people familiar with the plan.

RSA is close to hiring UBS AG to handle the disposal of businesses including Link4 in Poland and Balta in Latvia, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No final mandate has been given to UBS, the people said.

The insurer is seeking to bolster its finances after issuing three profit warnings in the fourth quarter and injecting 200 million pounds ($332 million) into its Irish unit, events that prompted the departure of Chief Executive Officer Simon Lee. Executive Chairman Martin Scicluna said earlier this month that a review of RSA’s capital position was progressing, with “all options” being considered.

The shares climbed as much as 1.3 percent in London trading and were down 0.7 percent at 99.55 pence at 3:22 p.m. Spokesman Jon Sellors said today that RSA won’t comment on its business review until next month, when it reports full-year results.

The profit warnings and capital injection helped to wipe more than 1.3 billion pounds off RSA’s market value in 2013. Standard & Poor’s cut RSA’s credit rating to A- on Dec. 16 and said more downgrades could follow unless the company strengthened its capital.

RSA operates in 32 countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada and the Middle East and has made more than 60 acquisitions in eight years. In central and eastern Europe, it operates in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic.

RSA bought Warsaw-based Link4, a car insurer, in 2009. The London-based firm acquired Balta, a home and car insurer based in Riga, Latvia through its Codan unit in 2001.

--With assistance from Elisa Martinuzzi in Milan. Editors: Aaron Kirchfeld, Keith Campbell, Jon Menon