MILAN Dec 4 France's Amundi is the
likely winner in the bidding race to buy UniCredit's asset
manager Pioneer, beating a consortium led by Italy's post office
and Ameriprise Financial, two sources close the matter
told Reuters on Sunday.
Italy's biggest bank is looking to sell Pioneer and other
businesses to strengthen its balance sheet. The lender is set to
unveil a strategic plan on Dec. 13 which sources have said will
include a share rights issue for up to 13 billion euros ($14
Amundi and UniCredit declined to comment.
One of the sources said Amundi had offered more than 3.5
billion euros, although it was not clear whether this included a
325 million euro cash position held by Pioneer.
The same source mentioned disagreements between Poste
Italiane and UniCredit over the distribution contract
that the buyer would have had to undersign with the lender.
Sources told Reuters on Nov. 25 that Amundi had made the
highest offer for Pioneer, and that the Poste-led consortium and
Ameriprise were scrambling to stay in the race. Aberdeen Asset
Management dropped its bid for Pioneer last month as it
considered the price too high.
Pioneer is Europe's sixth-largest asset gatherer and has
assets under management of around 225 billion euros.
As investors around the world search for higher returns,
asset gatherers have grown rapidly in recent years, making them
an appealing target for banks and financial institutions.
($1 = 0.9392 euros)
(Reporting by Francesca Landini, Paola Arosio, Gianluca
Semeraro,; Additional reporting by Maya Nikolaeva in Paris,
Writing by Giulia Segreti, editing by Silvia Aloisi)