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Ping An to buy into Fortis fund management unit
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Ping An Insurance of China is in talks with Fortis over the purchase of a stake in the Belgian-Dutch financial services group's fund management unit, media reported.

Fortis will sell a stake in its unit Fortis Investments to Ping An for 2 billion euros ($3.11 billion) to strengthen its solvency, a Belgian newspaper said. But a spokesperson for Fortis refused to comment on the press report.

The amount of capital from Ping An has not yet been confirmed, said the China Securities News, citing sources.

Ping An spokesman Sheng Ruisheng said he had not heard anything about the deal. He denied earlier media reports that Ping An had applied to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange for a 4-billion-euro loan.

The insurer plans to issue up to 1.2 billion yuan-denominated A shares and 41.2 billion yuan ($5.8 billion) of convertible bonds with warrants, which could raise as much as 120 billion yuan in the domestic stock market. The refinancing plan has shored up support from its shareholders, but still needs approval from China's securities regulator.

Last November, Ping An paid 1.81 billion euros for a 4.18-percent stake in Fortis, making it the latter's largest shareholder.

(Chinadaily.com.cn March 13, 2008)

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