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BNP Paribas to Acquire Fosun's around 9% Stake in Belgian Insurer Ageas

PARIS/HONG KONG, April 14 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas has signed an agreement with China's Fosun Group to acquire its around 9% stake in Belgian insurer Ageas for a sum the French bank estimates at 730 million euros ($777 million).

Ageas and BNP Paribas are long time partners via a joint shareholding in AG Insurance, Belgium's leading insurer. Ageas owns 75% and BNP the remaining 25%.

"Ageas is pleased to see that BNP Paribas recognises, through this investment, the value of its partnership for the long term and the potential of the company going forward," the Belgian insurer said in a separate statement.

Last month, Ageas dropped plans to buy Direct Line after the British home and motor insurer turned down a revised 3.17 billion pound ($3.95 billion) takeover bid from the Belgian insurer.

BNP's statement on the size of the stake and value of the deal differed slightly from a separate statement by Fosun.

Fosun International said in a Sunday filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it agreed on April 12 to sell up to up to 15,401,253 shares of Ageas, which represents an 8.19% stake in the Belgian insurer, to BNP Paribas Cardif, a subsidiary of the French bank, for up to 670 million euros.

The sale will be done via three block trades with the last two trades completed within 10 business days after regulatory clearance is obtained or waived, according to the filing.

The Chinese company said it intended to use proceeds of the sale for general working capital.

"The disposal is part of the company's effort of streamlining its portfolio and implementing core business-focused strategy. It also demonstrates the group's continuous determination on improving its financial performance and creating maximum value for its shareholders," Fosun said.

Fosun said it would still hold 1,952,524 shares of Ageas after the sale.

The company said on Monday the data disclosed in its announcement corresponded to the shareholding ratio of Fosun International.

BNP and Ageas did not respond to Reuters requests for an explanation about the discrepancies in their statements regarding the sale.

($1 = 0.9397 euros)

($1 = 0.8032 pounds)

Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris and Kane Wu in Hong Kong; Editing by David Goodman and Susan Fenton

Source: Reuters

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