Investment firm still interested in Irish Life

US investment firm JC Flowers&, which was short-listed last year in the shelved sale of Irish Life, is still interested in buying the country’s largest life insurer, an executive at the firm said.

“We remain interested to invest in Ireland and have followed Irish Life’s progress over the last year or so,” Tim Hanford, managing director of JC Flowers & Co UK, said.

“If the Government were now to re-open the sale process for the company, then we would certainly hope to participate.”

The Government has reportedly resumed talks on a possible sale of the nationalised Irish Life to Canada’s Great-West Lifeco.

The Government bought the insurer for €1.3bn in June from debt-laden lender Irish Life & Permanent after the euro-area debt crisis prompted Great-West to pull out of the process in Nov 2011.

Great-West was picked as the top candidate to acquire Irish Life last year. A joint bid from JC Flowers and Apollo Global Management, and an offer from CVC Capital Partners was also short-listed.

“We consider Irish Life an attractive long-term opportunity for Great-West,” Peter Routledge, an analyst at National Bank Financial Group in Toronto, wrote in a note to clients, noting that company manages 33% of life assurance and pensions assets in Ireland.

“However, the potential deal does pose some near-term valuation risk, especially of the European debt crisis intensifies again.”

Great-West’s existing Irish subsidiary, Canada Life, has a 5% market share, the analyst said.

Officials from the Department of Finance and Irish Life declined to comment on the resumed talks with Great-West. Marlene Klassen, a spokeswoman for the Canadian life company, declined to comment. The Sunday Business Post reported on Sunday that Great-West had reopened talks on Irish Life.


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