Axa SA is in advanced talks to sell its central and eastern European operations to Austria’s Uniqa Insurance Group AG, people familiar with the matter said.
The insurers aim to reach an agreement in the coming weeks for the businesses in countries including Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, according to the people. The business could fetch about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
Uniqa edged out rival bids from Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali SpA and Vienna Insurance Group AG, the people said. No final agreements have been reached, and other suitors could still try to improve their offers, the people said.
Representatives for Axa, Generali, Uniqa and Vienna Insurance declined to comment.
Uniqa lacks critical mass in major eastern European markets and would get a significant boost from adding the Axa units. A deal would dovetail with Axa Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl’s push to streamline the second-largest European insurer by pulling out of less profitable markets and pivoting away from life insurance.
Axa is also considering options for its Middle Eastern operations including a potential sale, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.
–With assistance from Sonia Sirletti, Boris Groendahl and Dinesh Nair.