Fondiaria Shares Rise After Bollore Increases Stake in Italian Insurer

Fondiaria-Sai SpA rose after French businessman Vincent Bollore boosted his stake in its parent company, spurring speculation French companies may be interested in Italy’s second-biggest insurer.

Fondiaria gained as much as 6.2 percent, the biggest increase since Aug. 10, and was up 5 percent to 8.2 euros at 2:30 p.m. in Milan, giving the company a market value of 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion).

Bollore, vice chairman of Assicurazioni Generali SpA, increased his stake in the Milan-based insurer’s holding company, Premafin Finanziaria SpA, to 2.4 percent from 2 percent on Sept. 29, according to regulatory filings posted on financial regulator Consob’s website today. Spokesmen for Bollore and Fondiaria didn’t return calls seeking comment.

“The stake taken by Bollore in Prefamin has fueled M&A speculation” with French players including Paris-based insurer Groupama SA, Exane BNP Paribas analyst Niccolo Dalla Palma said in a report today. He raised his recommendation on the stock to “neutral” from “underperform.”

Bollore’s purchase in Premafin may be a prelude to an interest in Fondiaria by Groupama, which wants to expand in Italy, the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera reported today, without saying where it got the information. A Groupama spokesman declined to comment on the press report.

To contact the reporters on this story: Francesca Cinelli in Milan at fcinelli@bloomberg.net; Sonia Sirletti in Milan at ssirletti@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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