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Swiss Life and Talanx talk MLP deal

SWISS Life Holding AG is in talks with Talanx AG, Germany's third-biggest insurer, over the Swiss life insurer's stake in German financial-services broker MLP AG.

Swiss Life rose the most in four months in Swiss trading on news of the deal.

Discussions are at an early stage and no decisions have been made yet, Swiss Life spokesman Andreas Hildenbrand said yesterday.

Talanx spokesman Thomas von Mallinckrodt confirmed that talks were in progress but declined to discuss details.

Swiss Life bought in August a 24-percent stake in MLP, which opposes the investment. The Wiesloch, Germany-based broker said on November 21 that it would stop "actively selling" the insurer's retirement products to safeguard its independence.

MLP also sold 9.8 million new shares to insurers including Allianz SE and Axa SA, to dilute Swiss Life's stake, which initially was 27 percent.

"Finding a solution for the MLP issue would be very positive for Swiss Life as it would take out a lot of uncertainties, as shown by the share reaction today (Friday)," said Marc Effgen, a London-based analyst with Helvea, according to Bloomberg News.

The Swiss insurer's shares rose 7.85 francs, or 14 percent, to 62.8 francs in morning trading in Zurich, valuing the company at 2.3 billion francs (US$1.9 billion). MLP rose 39 cents, or 6.3 percent, to 6.63 euros in Frankfurt.

Possible stake deal

Talanx, based in Hanover, may take a 10-percent stake in Swiss Life and the Swiss insurer may sell Talanx a 10-percent stake in MLP, the Financial Times Deutschland reported on Thursday, without saying where it obtained the information.

Talanx wants to improve its marketing strategy of its life products and gain improved access to MLP resources, the newspaper reported.

Swiss Life Chief Executive Officer Bruno Pfister told Schweizer Versicherung magazine in January that the insurer's "top priority" for 2009 is resolving the future of its MLP stake.

The insurer, which bought MLP's rival AWD Holding AG last year, acquired the MLP stake from AWD founder Carsten Maschmeyer.


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