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Phoenix In advance talks to buy Deutche Bank’s Abbey Life

(Reuters) – Phoenix Group Holdings <PHNX.L>, Britain’s largest owner of life assurance funds closed to new customers, said it was in advanced discussions with Deutsche Bank AG <DBKGn.DE> about the possible acquisition of the German lender’s British insurance business, Abbey Life Assurance.

Deutsche Bank was nearing a deal to sell the business to Phoenix, a person close to the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

Phoenix is planning to raise 800 million pounds ($1.06 billion) to fund the purchase, which will be finalised in the next couple of weeks, the person said.

Phoenix said on Friday that it continued to explore further acquisition opportunities in the UK closed life sector.

Phoenix CEO Clive Bannister told Reuters in August that the company was scouting for acquisitions to help gain scale in a challenging, low interest rate environment after Brexit.

Regulatory changes and rock bottom interest rates had ramped up pressure on industry players to deal with their legacy books, leading many to consider putting them up for sale.

The interest rate cut that followed Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has also squeezed returns on investments for companies that manage closed life insurers.

Deutsche Bank began weighing the sale of Abbey Life in October last year, attracting interest from Swiss Re AG <SRENH.S> unit Admin Re, Phoenix and Legal & General Group Plc <LGEN.L> among others, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

Abbey Life, which was bought by Deutsche Bank for 977 million pounds in 2007, is valued at about 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion), sources told Reuters in June.

($1 = 0.7560 pounds)

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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