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Musical chairs continues

Guardian Assurance says it's no longer for sale, and ANZ denies it's about to buy National Mutual.vi

Wednesday, September 9th 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Guardian Assurance has confirmed the business was put on the market in June, but now says it will not be sold.
The decision to put the business on the market was linked to the group's restructuring of its North American assets, which highlighted the non-core nature of its activities in New Zealand.
Guardian said a number of parties expressed interest in buying the business, however none offered a price that reflected that it was "a well-run, growing and profitable business."
Royal & SunAlliance was tipped as the most likely purchaser of Guardian's business, and it is thought that company was prepared to pay about $300 million for the business.

A future sale of Guardian has not been ruled out.
Guardian Assurance has been considered a likely victim of industry rationalisation for some time now as it is one of the remaining mid-sized life offices left 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.
Meanwhile ANZ has scotched speculation it is about to buy AXA's 51 per cent stake in National Mutual.
National Mutual's French parent AXA-UAP has widely been reported as wanting to quit the Australian and New Zealand operations of National Mutual to concentrate on Asian markets.
ANZ told the Australian Stock Exchange it was not in talks with ANZ or any other parties about selling the business.
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China Construction Bank Special - - - -
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