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Guardian Assurance sale rumours, AMP goes shopping, NM PIPs closes and PTO cleared for sale.

Monday, August 31st 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Rumour is rife within the financial services industry that Royal and SunAlliance is about to buy Guardian Assurance's business.
Good Returns has had it confirmed that an information memorandum regarding Guardian Assurance has been circulated amongst prospective purchasers.
Guardian Assurance has been considered a likely victim of industry rationalisation as it is one of the smaller life offices in New Zealand, and it has been unsuccessful in growing through acquisition. Good Returns understands Guardian came second to Royal & SunAlliance when Norwich Union and Oceanic's insurance bond businesses were sold.

Another factor in the equation is that Guardian does not yet have any unit trust products, however, as reported earlier in Good Returns, it has plans to launch a new range of funds later this year.
Also Guardian Assurance's United Kingdom-based listed parent company has been looking increasingly isolated as its bigger rivals get together.

AMP's war chest
AMP is also on the acquisition trail, making a A$3.01 billion bid for general insurance company GIO last week, and indicating it was looking at buying a United Kingdom business.
AMP said on Friday that it had put in place funding arrangements with a nominal value of more than A$11 billion.
Its aim is to buy an insurance group in the UK with which it can leverage into the very promising European market.
Chief financial officer Paul Batchelor says the group was "always looking at opportunities" in the UK and Europe, though "the market still looks expensive over there".
The current slump in world sharemarkets is likely to help alleviate this perception of expensiveness.

NM PIPS service closes
National Mutual has closed its PIPs portfolio monitoring service that was administered by subsidiary company Permanent Trustees.
National Mutual general manager distribution Mark Wilson says the service had only 38 clients so closing it wasn't a big problem.
He says about a dozen agents used the service.

Public Trust cleared for sale
The way has been cleared for the Government to sell off the Public Trust Office (PTO). The High Court at Wellington has ruled that the Government, rather than the PTO's customers, were the owners of any surplus.
Justice Heron said when the PTO was established it was expected that the Government would be entitled to any surplus.
The office has 250,000 customers, it manages assets of $4.3 billion and it has reserves totalling $84 million.
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