Citigroup Said to Be Preparing Sale of Prime Reinsurance

Citigroup Inc. is preparing to sell Prime Reinsurance Co., a subsidiary created five years ago to ease the spinoff of life insurer Primerica Inc., according to people familiar with the process.

The unit, based in Burlington, Vermont, and known as Prime Re, could draw interest from Reinsurance Group of America Inc., Resolution Re and other firms that specialize in buying blocks of complicated insurance contracts, said two of the people, who asked not to be named because the process isn’t public.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat is selling businesses such as subprime lender OneMain Financial Inc. and retail banks across Latin America to sharpen the Citigroup’s strategy. He’s waited to sell assets until values rose, and the market for reinsurers has picked up in recent months as firms expand and investors seek returns not tied to financial markets.

“We’re seeing all sorts of consolidations,” Meyer Shields, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said by telephone. Customers are choosing to buy reinsurance “from a smaller number of bigger companies.”

The people didn’t provide a precise value for a sale of Prime Re. Citigroup and Primerica, which the New York-based bank spun off in a 2010 initial public offering, transferred some outstanding term-life policies to the reinsurer. Prime Re had $7 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, 2013, a company presentation showed.

Jennifer Lowney, a Citigroup spokeswoman, and Sally Smith of RGA declined to comment. A spokesman for Resolution Re couldn’t immediately be reached.

Insurance Deals

Reinsurers assume risks from primary insurers and invest premium revenue before claims come due. Hedge funds and alternative investors have rushed into the market, seeking higher yields as interest rates remain near zero.

About 390 insurance transactions were announced last year for a combined value of almost $50 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That made it the industry’s busiest year for dealmaking since 2008.

Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. agreed in January to merge with PartnerRe Ltd. to compete with larger rivals. XL Group Plc announced a deal this year to buy Catlin Group Ltd. for about $4 billion.

RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. completed its acquisition of Platinum Underwriters Holdings Ltd. in March. Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. agreed to take over Montpelier Re Holdings Ltd. on Tuesday after abandoning a more than $3 billion hostile bid for another reinsurer last year.

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