Assicurazioni Generali SpA is planning to sell a roughly €20 billion ($21 billion) Italian Life Insurance portfolio as part of a plan to improve profitability, people familiar with the matter said.

The Italian insurer, which has been working with an adviser to review the portfolio, may start a sale process as soon as January, the people said, asking to not be identified discussing confidential information.

The sale includes legacy policies from Societa Cattolica di Assicurazioni, a smaller rival that Generali bought last year, and Genertel, according to the people. It is unclear how much the portfolio would fetch in a sale.

Deliberations are ongoing and no final decisions on the size or timing of any deal have been taken, they said. A representative for Generali declined to comment.

The market for back books, or portfolios of old insurance policies, has been an active area of dealmaking as it provides a way for insurers to free up capital. Generali is among those that have been cutting exposure to life products.

A year ago, Generali’s Chief Executive Officer Philippe Donnet outlined plans to return as much as €5.6 billion in dividends to shareholders by 2024, as well as expand in non-Life Insurance asset management.

Photograph: An Assicurazioni Generali SpA logo sits above an entrance to its offices in Rome, Italy, on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Photo credit: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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