Marsh Said to Weigh Offer for Alexander Forbes of South Africa

Jun 20, 2014 10:28 am ET

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Marsh Ltd., the insurance unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos, has expressed interest in bidding for closely held Alexander Forbes Ltd. of South Africa, according to three people familiar with the talks.

Shareholders in Alex Forbes are meeting today to decide whether to pursue a trade sale or initial public offering as private equity owners prepare to exit. The Johannesburg-based pension-fund manager said in April it was exploring expressions of interest from several parties to acquire the company.

Peter Beshar, a spokesman at Marsh in New York, said the company doesn’t comment on potential deals. Lynn Stevens, a spokeswoman for Alex Forbes, said there would be a statement on June 23 and declined to comment further.

Private equity firms including Actis LLP and Ethos Private Equity Ltd. bought Alex Forbes for 8.2 billion rand ($767 million) in 2007. Deutsche Bank AG and Rand Merchant Bank were hired last year to advise on an exit. The preference shares value the company at about 12 billion rand.

If Alex Forbes decides to proceed with a share sale, it may list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange by the end of July, Chief Executive Officer Edward Kieswetter said in an interview on June 17. Kieswetter, who became CEO in 2010, has overseen the sale of three U.K. operations and South African insurance unit Guardrisk while returning the company to profitability.

--With assistance from Matthew Campbell in London.