Great-West Lifeco to buy Ireland's largest insurance company
Great-West Lifeco Inc. will acquire Irish Life Group for $1.75 billion through an agreement with the Government of Ireland, which acquired the company last summer after its former parent failed to pass financial stress tests.
Irish Life, formerly part of a larger group called Irish Life & Permanent, currently provides life insurance, pension management and investment management services to more than one million customers.
It manages assets worth the equivalent of $50 billion, or €37 billion, and employs about 2,000 people – almost all in Ireland.
"I am very pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached with Great-West Lifeco for the sale of Irish Life," Ireland's finance minister, Michael Noonan, said in a statement Tuesday.
"Today's deal is the first time during this crisis that a company in which we have invested has been returned fully to private ownership."
He said the transaction, which requires regulatory approvals, provides Irish taxpayers with "a full return on its investment in Irish Life."
Winnipeg-based Great-West is one of Canada's largest insurance and wealth management companies and is part of the Power Corporation (TSX:POW) group of companies, one of Canada's largest non-bank financial conglomerates.
Great-West says the acquisition of Irish Life will increase its profit by about 10 per cent in 2014, the first full year of ownership. The name Irish Life will be maintained and the company will absorb Great-West's other Irish operations.
"This transaction affirms our long-term commitment to Ireland, where Canada Life has operated since 1903," Allen Loney, Great-West's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
"It allows us to achieve – with a single transaction – the leading position in life insurance, pensions and investment management, and is consistent with Great-West Lifeco's global business strategy of developing significant market positions in the sectors where the company participates."