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Insurer ASR, Dutch state in privatisation talks

Source: Reuters - Thu 3rd Sep 2009

Nationalised insurance company ASR Nederland, a Fortis offshoot, said it is in talks with the Dutch state about returning the firm to private hands.

As part of the break-up of Belgian-Dutch financial group Fortis along national lines last October, the Dutch government purchased what is now called ASR. It has not needed to provide the business with financial aid.

In a statement alongside its first-half results, ASR said on Thursday that talks are ongoing with the state, executives and the supervisory board over when it can be returned to private hands. No timetable was given, however.

ASR is one of a number of insurance assets currently on the market in the Netherlands, signalling a likely wave of consolidation relatively soon. Analysts point to Delta Lloyd,which is planning a public offering later this year, as a potential buyer.

ASR said net profit fell 74 percent to 77 million euros forthe six months ended June 30, weighed down in part by lower investment income.

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