Zurich in talks to buy MetLife’s U.S. home, car insurance unit through Farmers

A company logo sits on a Zurich Insurance Group AG building in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday, August 6, 2015. Zurich Insurance is raising financing ahead of a possible takeover offer for RSA Insurance Group that could come as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter. Photographer: Alessandro Della Bella/Bloomberg
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(Bloomberg) -- Zurich Insurance Group AG said it’s in talks to buy MetLife Inc.’s U.S. property and casualty unit, which offers coverage for homes and automobiles.

“Zurich subsidiary, Farmers Group Inc., is proposing to acquire the business in conjunction with the Farmers Exchanges,” the Swiss insurer said Friday in a statement. “The terms of any transaction are subject to negotiations and there can be no assurance that a transaction will take place.”

Reuters reported earlier that the companies were in advanced talks, citing people familiar with the matter. It said that the deal could fetch close to $4 billion and be announced as early as December.

A MetLife spokesman declined to comment.

Adjusted earnings for the MetLife unit fell 68% to $18 million in the third quarter from a year earlier. That was driven by the highest catastrophe losses in nearly a decade, tied to a tropical storm in the U.S. Northeast and severe windstorms in the Midwest.

“This is a well-run, good business,” MetLife Chief Executive Officer Michel Khalaf said during an earnings call earlier this month.

The deal would follow another large transaction in the industry this year, after Allstate Corp. agreed in July to buy National General Holdings Corp. for about $4 billion in cash in the auto insurer’s biggest acquisition ever.

--With assistance from Katherine Chiglinsky.

Bloomberg News