SoftBank in talks with Swiss Re for minority stake

SoftBank in talks with Swiss Re for minority stake

SoftBank in talks with Swiss Re for minority stake

Swiss Re said it was in preliminary discussions with Japan's SoftBank Group that could lead to a significant minority investment in the big European reinsurer by the conglomerate.

Shares of Swiss Re jumped more than 9 percent in midday trading.

Softbank has raised eyebrows after a confirmation it is in talks with Swiss Re about taking a minority stake in the insurance behemoth.

The statement followed a Wall Street Journal report that SoftBank was in talks to buy almost a third of. A spokesman for SoftBank didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Softbank is looking to purchase up to a third of Swiss Re's shares at a premium, the Journal reported.

The company is making a concerted effort to invest in technology firms through its $100-billion Vision Fund investment vehicle.

SoftBank previous year raised more than $93 billion to create the Vision Fund, the world's largest private equity fund, and by the end of December had invested $27.5 billion in 20 tech firms through its investment arm. That could bring a huge number of potential insurance customers - from ride-share drivers to dog walking app users - into what Son calls his "synergy group" of companies.

"Reinsurance, especially through a high-class outfit like Swiss Re, is attractive for several reasons", David Havens, an analyst at Imperial Capital, said in a note to clients.

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The group's total interest-bearing debt at the end of December was 15.8 trillion yen ($144.5 billion) and Masayoshi Son said on Wednesday he wants to keep debt levels below 3.5 times earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization.

SoftBank shares climbed 1 percent on Thursday, in line with the broader market.

The pair are "engaged in preliminary discussions", Swiss Re revealed in a statement this morning.

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