Spanish insurer Catalana Occidente considered frontrunner to buy division

Spanish insurer Grupo Catalana Occidente has made a non-binding bid for Groupama’s Spanish business, Dow Jones reports.

The newswire, citing people familiar with the matter, said Catalana Occidente was considered the front-runner to buy the business. Fellow Spanish insurer Mapfre has looked at the unit, but Catalana Occidente is the only bidder so far.

Groupama is thought to be seeking between €300m and €400m (£246m-£328m) for its Spanish unit, Dow Jones said.

Groupama is looking to sell a number of assets after high exposures to Eurozone debt pushed the French insurance group into a €1.8bn loss in 2011.

The company’s UK operations, which comprises underwriting firm Groupama Insurances and broking group GUK Broking Services, is attracting a lot of  interest from private equity and trade buyers alike. Interested parties include private equity firms JC Flowers and Charterhouse and broking group Gallagher.

In addition GUK Broking Services subsidiaries Bollington and Lark are believed to be seeking management buy-outs.