Unum, FGL Rally as StanCorp Deal Fuels Takeover Speculation

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Unum Group and Fidelity & Guaranty Life climbed in New York trading on speculation there could be more takeovers of U.S. life insurers after Japan’s Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. agreed to buy StanCorp Financial Group Inc.

Unum, a provider of disability coverage, rose 4.5 percent to $37.82 at 1:24 p.m., the biggest intraday surge since 2013. Symetra Financial Corp. surged 5.3 percent, while FGL advanced

1.1 percent.

Japanese insurers have sought to expand their reach into the U.S. as an aging domestic population stifles demand for new policies. Meiji Yasuda agreed to pay $115 a share for Portland, Oregon-based StanCorp, compared with Thursday’s closing price of $76.69. Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Co. paid about $5.5 billion for Protective Life Corp. this year.

“Japanese insurers including Nippon Life and Dai-Ichi Life are likely acquirers of U.S. life insurance properties,” Sean Dargan, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd., said in a note Wednesday. He cited FGL as a possible target.

FGL’s majority owner HRG Group Inc. said in April it was looking to sell either a part or all of its stake in the life insurer.

Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Financial Group Inc., whose second-largest shareholder is Nippon Life Insurance Co., jumped 4 percent.

Torchmark Corp. rose 3.3 percent and Primerica Inc. climbed

1.1 percent.

(Updates with Symetra’s gain in the second paragraph.)
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