Helvetia Buys Baloise Group’s Austrian Unit for $180 Million

Helvetia Holding AG, Switzerland’s fourth-biggest insurer by market value, agreed to buy the Austrian business of Baloise Holding AG for 130 million euros ($180 million).

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half, pending regulatory approval, St.Gallen, Switzerland-based Helvetia said today in a statement. The shares fell as much as 0.7 percent, as Baloise advanced as much as 1.5 percent.

Helvetia, which generates more than half of its revenue in Switzerland, last year acquired the transport insurance portfolio of Groupama SA’s Gan Eurocourtage, making it France’s second-biggest company in that market.

“The move makes sense for both insurers,” Stefan Schuermann, a Zurich-based analyst with Vontobel said. “For Baloise it is a further concentration on core markets and for Helvetia it is a continuation of its add-on acquisition strategy in its core markets.”

Baloise, of Basel, Switzerland, is the country’s third-biggest insurer, with a market value of 5.4 billion francs ($6.1 billion), outranking Helvetia, which is worth 3.7 billion francs.

Last year, Baloise Austria generated premium volume of 135.3 million euros, split into 105.5 million euros of non-life business and 29.8 million euros in life insurance, Helvetia said.

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