A$8bn takeover proposal to stand until 19 May

QBE has extended its A$8bn offer for IAG for a further two weeks, increasing speculation that the sale of Australia's largest personal lines insurer could be imminent.

The offer, which now stands until 19 May, follows IAG issuing its second profit warning of the year last week.

In a statement QBE chief executive Frank O'Halloran said: "The proposal has been extended to allow stakeholders more time to consider the impact of IAG's profit downgrade last week and the value of QBE shares."

"QBE remains interested in seeing through a friendly merger with the recommendation of IAG's board."

IAG shares rose 2 cents to A$4.36 yesterday - just one cent higher than the QBE bid, revealed on 15 April. They are up 3 per cent in the past week.

IAG chairman James Strong reiterated that the company had no intention to accept QBE's bid. He described the latest extension as having "no significance".

Analysts said that for the IAG board to recommend the offer to its shareholders, QBE would have to pay at least A$4.50 per IAG share.

In a separate statement, QBE said it has agreed to acquire some of its distribution channels. The acquisitions will add A$200m in premium and pre-tax profits of around A$70m next year.

O'Halloran added: "In addition to the IAG proposal, we are currently investigating other opportunities to build QBE's business around the world."