Analysts forecast 235 million pound first-half pretax profit for takeover target RSA

01 Aug, 2015 10:38 am

LONDON – British insurer RSA (RSA.L), the focus of a possible takeover bid by rival Zurich Insurance (ZURN.VX), is expected to post a pretax profit of 235 million pounds ($367 million) for the first half of 2015, according to a poll of analysts supplied by RSA.

Zurich said this week that it was weighing a possible cash bid for RSA, driving RSA’s shares up by nearly 20 percent, with speculation the price tag would be 5.5 billion pounds.

RSA, best-known for its More Than home and motor insurance brand, says it has held no talks with Zurich and received no proposal.

RSA swung into profit last year under the stewardship of former RBS (RBS.L) boss Stephen Hester, after posting a loss in 2013 following a series of weather-related claims and an accounting scandal at its Irish unit.

It posted a pretax profit of 69 million pounds for the first half of 2014, as its recovery began to take effect, and a full-year profit of 275 million pounds.

Tougher European regulations for insurers from January 2016, fierce competition in the sector and low investment returns have prompted several tie-ups, both in Europe and the United States, with more expected to follow.

The poll of 12 analysts gave a profit forecast range from 209 million to 273 million pounds.

Both RSA and Zurich are due to report half-yearly earnings on Aug. 6.

According to British takeover rules, Zurich has until Aug. 25 to make an offer or walk away from the deal. Some analysts speculate other large European or U.S. insurers may also choose to make a bid. -Reuters

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