Alexander Forbes: US firm eyes unit as owners plan exit

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Marsh, the insurance unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan, has expressed an interest in bidding for closely held Alexander Forbes, according to three people familiar with the talks. Alexander Forbes’ preference shares rose as much as 6.21 percent on Friday, the most in seven weeks, and closed 3.49 percent higher at R9.50 on the JSE. Shareholders in Alexander Forbes were due to meet on Friday to decide whether to pursue a trade sale or initial public offering as private equity owners prepared to exit. The company might sell part of the business and list some shares on the JSE, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions were private. Peter Beshar, a spokesman at Marsh, said the company did not comment on potential deals. Lynn Stevens, a spokeswoman for Alexander Forbes, said the firm would release a statement today. The pension fund manager said in April it was exploring expressions of interest from several parties. Private equity firms including Actis and Ethos Private Equity bought Alexander Forbes for R8.2 billion in 2007. Deutsche Bank and Rand Merchant Bank were hired last year to advise on an exit. The preference shares value the company at about R12.3bn. – Bloomberg

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