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Life Health > Life Insurance

Could British Pru Find Another Suitor?

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Executives at Prudential P.L.C. are rejecting a $30 billion bid from a larger rival, Aviva P.L.C., saying the offer is too low.

Some analysts are asking whether the British Prudential, which has no connection with Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J., could end up luring a bidder who will beat Aviva’s price.

“The ghost to this particular feast is the prospect of a third-party bid,” says Bruno Paulson, an analyst in the London office of Sanford Bernstein & Company.

Analysts have identified AXA S.A., Paris, and American International Group Inc., New York, as possible suitors for the British Prudential.

Representatives for AXA and AIG declined to comment.

If AIG ends up playing the role of the white knight, that might make for an interesting coincidence.

In 2001, after shareholders of the British Prudential complained when Prudential announced plans to acquire American General Corp., Houston, AIG entered a higher bid and ended up getting American General.

Although Aviva, London, is bigger than Prudential, London, completing the Prudential deal could give it a much stronger market share in North America.

Aviva gets 85% of its net premium revenue in the United Kingdom and continental Europe and only 15% elsewhere.

“Aviva certainly has been looking to build a presence in the U.S.,” says Cynthia Crosson, a director at Fitch Ratings, New York.

The British Prudential gets 25% of its revenue from the United States.

The British Prudential is the parent of Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Lansing, Mich., a major player in the U.S. annuity market, and of Curian Capital L.L.C., a growing player in the managed accounts market.

But Sir David Clementi, chairman of the British Prudential, London, says Prudential company has been doing well and is likely to grow faster as a stand-alone company than it would if it were acquired.

Allison Bell contributed to this article.


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