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French AGF Faces Hostile Takeover

October 14, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali launched France’s biggest ever takeover bid Monday with a surprise offer to pay up to $9.3 billion for Assurances Generales de France. The move could herald the opening up of France’s financial services sector to foreigners.

AGF, which is in the middle of a white-knight rescue bid for industrial and insurance group Worms & Cie, said it would fight the unsolicited attempt to take control of the company.

But Generali has reason to be confident of success, analysts said. Its offer shows it is willing to pay a 28 percent premium for AGF shares - both the 137 million now in issue and the 22 million AGF plans to issue in its bid for Worms.

The all-cash offer works out at 300 francs ($50) per share and 305 francs ($51) per convertible AGF bond, compared with AGF’s last traded share price of 235 francs ($39).

Generali spokesman Giovanni Perissinotto said Monday that the group, Italy’s biggest insurer, hadn’t received a direct reply from AGF on the bid, although it acknowledged it hadn’t informed AGF beforehand.

Analysts said they could see little to obstruct the Generali attempt. French financial markets cheered news of the takeover bid Monday, pushing Paris’s benchmark CAC-40 index up 1.5 percent to 3000.98, led by gains in financial stocks.

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