Suncorp inches closer to NZ insurer takeover

Suncorp increased its stake in a leading New Zealand insurer to 19.9% following a takeover bid in February.

Suncorp's bid for Tower Insurance occurred shortly after the latter entered into a scheme implementation agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings. Fairfax proposed acquiring all of Tower's shares at NZ$1.17 each; Suncorp responded with a similar bid at $1.30 per share.

The bank paid a slight premium to that offer - $1.40 each - to acquire its current 19.9% stake. Tower chair Michael Stiassny questioned this in an ASX announcement, saying it was "unclear whether the $1.40 per share will be available for all Tower shareholders."

He added: "We would expect all shareholders to benefit equally from a sale and will be asking Suncorp to advise whether it intends to employ differential pricing in its proposal."

"In addition, we will seek to clarify aspects of the highly conditional nature of their indicative scheme proposal. The board also continues to closely engage with Fairfax in relation to the previously announced scheme and other transaction possibilities. We will update the market on any further material developments as the circumstances require," Stiassny said.

Tower Insurance is the now-demutualised insurance group created in New Zealand following the establishment of the NZ Government's Life Insurance Office. Its Australian business was separated in 2006 before being acquired by Dai-ichi Life and becoming TAL.

Read more: SuncorpFairfaxNew ZealandTower InsuranceASXDai-ichi LifeLife Insurance OfficeMichael StiassnyNZ GovernmentTAL
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