SoftBank in talks with Swiss Re for minority stake

Bank Group Corp is seen at the company's headquarters in Tokyo

Swiss Re has revealed it is engaged in preliminary talks with a Japanese conglomerate for a possible "minority investment" in the reinsurer.

Swiss Re confirmed the talks and said they are at a very early stage.

The company may try to offer Swiss Re's insurance products directly to consumers, including to people who drive for Uber Technologies Inc. or utilize office space from WeWork Cos., two of its investments, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported the discussions earlier.

Swiss Re was founded in 1863 is a reinsurance company based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Swiss Re shares were trading at 94.00 Swiss francs ($99.4), up almost 4.2 percent on the news, as of 1030 GMT. SoftBank stock closed up 1 percent. Softbank is reported to be looking for a stake of less than 33% in Swiss Re. A spokesman for SoftBank didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

This latest potential investment for Softbank comes as the Japanese company is working to further diversify its growth plans.

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By 1045 BST, Swiss Re shares were 4.10% higher at CHF93.88 - off the highs of CHF96.10 it hit at the opening bell.

The report, citing sources familiar with the matter, said the deal under discussion was for the purchase of up to a third of Swiss Re's shares at a premium.

SoftBank could also be aiming to secure another source of cash flow to fund further spending.

Swiss Re's top management recently visited Japan and met with SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, the report said.

Through its investment arm centred on the Vision Fund, the world's largest private equity fund, SoftBank has already funnelled $27.5 billion into tech firms around the world.

The purchase of a stake in Swiss Re would be the latest in a constant stream of investments that have made valuing SoftBank hard and left a "conglomerate discount" weighing on its share price.

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