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Reinsurer Swiss Re spikes on a possible $10 billion Softbank stake
11 February 2018, 01:31 | Austin Hogan
Soft Bank Group Corp is displayed at Soft Bank World 2017 conference in Tokyo Japan
Swiss Resaid it's in talks with Softbank about a "potential minority investment" and that the discussions are "at a very early stage", according to a company release.
Analysts said SoftBank could be attracted by Swiss Re's research capabilities and undervalued stock, while the company's cash generation could prove attractive.
SoftBank set up a 10 trillion yen ($91.4 billion) investment vehicle called the SoftBank Vision Fund in 2016.
Shares in Swiss Re, which has a market capitalisation of around 33 billion Swiss francs ($34.94 billion), were more than 4 percent higher by 1223 GMT. The billionaire has been racking up a dizzying array of investments over the previous year as he reshapes Japan's largest mobile-phone carrier and majority owner of Sprint Corp. into a force in the technology world.
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Softbank's CEO, Masayoshi Son, recently said the investments are part of his plans to secure the long-term growth and health of Softbank for the "next 300 years".
"A major shareholder is like a quality stamp for the company", the person said. "There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor as to the terms, timing, or form of any transaction".
SoftBank, which has declined to comment on the possible deal, has been engaged in aggressive spending over the past year. It is yet unknown whether SoftBank Group itself or the investment fund will buy the Swiss Re stake.
Even so, reinsurance has remained attractive to big-money investors. But it said expected a rise in insurance premiums, especially in disaster-hit areas, would help it recover. Higher interest rates could help boost earnings, the industry is generally uncorrelated to others, and "Swiss Re is a gem of a company with top-flight management, generally solid results, a strong balance sheet and global diversification". Getting into insurance in a disruptive way, like their acquisition of Lemonade which uses AI to accelerate claims processing does make sense, but not traditional reinsurance.
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