Italians eye Aviva

Aviva and Prudential could be a target for Generali, the Italian insurance giant, if reports in the Italian press are to be believed.

TCI, the London-based hedge fund, and Generali investor, reportedly want to see the Italians buy a big insurer in the UK market.

But the top three Generali stakeholders, who between them control 22.5% of the shareholding, will prevent any action being taken by shareholder activists, according to the FT.

However, UniCredit, which holds a 3.8% stake in Generali, will have to give up its shares under Italian antitrust law when it completes the acquisition of a rival bank in the coming months.

This might lead to TCI upping its stake through the Algebris Investment fund, which currently holds 0.3% of Generali.

Generali is valued at €46.2bn (£32.3bn), Aviva £18.9bn and Prudential £18.5bn.

As Insurance Times went to press, Aviva shares had climbed 4.7% to 729.5p with Prudential shares up 6.4% to 776.5p.

Broker Network shares have shot up since it first confirmed speculation of a takeover bid at the start of October.

A statement to AIM confirming an offer by an undisclosed bidder was made on 12 October, followed by an update on 23 October.

Trading at 407.5p at the start of October and peaking at 517.5p, shares were worth 490p as Insurance Times went to press.

Benfield continues to receive investment from hedge fund Deccan Value Advisors, which now holds around 11.7% of the broker.

In a regulatory announce-ment on Monday, Benfield said Deccan increased its holding by a further 1.4% over the previous week.

Benfield shares rose 5.1% to 291.25p.