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Generali to sell stake in unit to bolster capital

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Assicurazioni Generali has launched a share placement of up to 12 percent of its listed asset management unit Banca Generali as the insurer strengthens its capital base.

In a statement on Wednesday Generali said the aim was to optimize capital allocation to help improve its Solvency 1 ratio, a measure of capital strength.

At Wednesday's closing price the stake is worth around 200 million euros ($257 million).

Generali, like other insurers in Europe such as Aviva , is being forced to restructure to cope with low interest rates, tighter regulation and the weak economic climate in Europe.

The insurer, which currently owns 63.5 percent of the asset manager, said it had agreed a 6-month lockup period regarding sale of additional shares of the unit.

It said it would continue to keep control of Banca Generali and benefit from a strategic distribution channel. The deal will also increase the free float of Banca Generali.

The placement, coordinated by UBS and Mediobanca , is aimed at institutional investors and is being carried out via accelerated bookbuilding.

In March new Generali chief Mario Greco took moves to clean up the Italian insurer's balance sheet, part of a turnaround plan to boost the group's profitability.

($1 = 0.7783 euros)

(Reporting By Stephen Jewkes and Danilo Masoni; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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