The Deal: Lloyds Sells Germany's Heidelberger, U.K. Loans

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Lloyds Banking Group ( LYG) said it would sell its German life insurance business for about ¿300 million ($402.3 million) to Cinven and Hannover Rück, which plan add-on life insurance deals in Europe's largest economy. Lloyds will also sell a portfolio of mainly U.K. corporate loans for as much as £256 million ($401 million) to a Goldman Sachs Groupaffiliate as Britain's largest retail bank continues to clean up its balance sheet and simplify its business.

The London seller said the disposal of Heidelberger Lebensversicherung"is in line with the group's strategy of rationalizing its international presence and ensuring value for shareholders" and would lift group Tier One capital by about £400 million, while generating a loss of about £330 million.

Heidelberger Lebensversicherung has 600,000 policies and had assets of ¿5.2 billion as of year-end. Cinven said the new 80/20 joint venture with Hannover Re which is acquiring the business will use Heidelberger as a "consolidation platform" to buy other life insurance portfolios in the fragmented German market, the third-largest in Europe.

Cinven is replicating the strategy it employed in the U.K. with Guardian Financial Services, which it bought in November 2011 from Aegon ( AEG) for about £275 million. In July 2012, Guardian acquired 300,000 pension annuities from Phoenix Group and Guardian now manages about £13 billion of assets for 600,000 customers.

"We are looking forward to supporting the Heidelberger Leben management team with our expertise in building a similar platform in the German market," said Cinven Partner Caspar Berendsen in a statement. "Being the first German consolidation platform for life insurance portfolios, Heidelberger Leben will benefit from the continuing changes in the market and will make a key contribution to the strategic options for the German life insurance industry."

Michael Slatter will remain Heidelberger's CEO, while the joint venture partners will install Rolf-Peter Hoenen, a former CEO of insurer HUK-Coburg-Allgemeine Versichersung AG, and former president of the German Insurance Association, as nonexecutive chairman.

The Cinven/Hannover RE joint venture plans to invest a further ¿25 million in IT at Heidelberger, which had a statutory loss of £38 million in 2012, according to Lloyds.

The Heidelberger purchase by Cinven and Hannover RE requires approval from Germany's BaFin markets regulator and is expected to close by early next year.

The Goldman vehicle buying the Lloyds loans is ELQ Investors II Ltd. It will pay at least £254 million, with a further £2 million following within six months if unspecified financial conditions are met.

The portfolio has gross assets of £283 million and generated profit of £11 million in 2012. Lloyds said the sale will result in a small Core Tier One capital increase.

Both sales come as the British government, which has owned more than 40% of Lloyds since a January 2009 bailout, prepares to begin cutting its stake. The disposal is expected to start with a placement of Lloyds shares to institutional investors.

-- Written by Laura Board In London

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