Edelman assists Swiss Re with $6.8b buyout of GE reinsurance unit

NEW YORK: Edelman's financial practice aided Swiss Reinsurance Co. on its $6.8 billion purchase of GE's troubled reinsurance unit earlier this month.

NEW YORK: Edelman's financial practice aided Swiss Reinsurance Co. on its $6.8 billion purchase of GE's troubled reinsurance unit earlier this month.

A source familiar with the deal said that Swiss Re, which has been an Edelman client for at least two years, brought the firm in a month before the deal to handle standard transaction communications duties like logistics, messaging, and press releases.

GE carried out its portion of the transaction's communications in-house, said Russell Wilkerson, director of financial communications.

GE had been signaling its desire to exit the insurance business for some time because it was a financial drag on the company and not prone to fast growth. CEO Jeff Immelt noted during the announcement of the deal that the unit had lost $700 million over the past five years.

"This is a major final step in the transformation of our insurance portfolio and ... of Jeff Immelt's transformation of the overall business portfolio," Wilkerson said. "If you look at the way we structured the announcement and communications about the deal, it was much more comprehensive [than just information about the sale]."

From Swiss Re's perspective, the source said, the deal's benefits were threefold: The GE unit reinforces Swiss Re's core business, it came at a relative discount, and the company expects to realize synergies that will save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Analysts' initial reactions to Swiss Re's acquisition were tepid, but GE earned near unanimous applause. The source said that Zurich-based Swiss Re is covered more closely by European than by US financial media.

The deal is scheduled to close in the first half of next year.

A team of four led Edelman's work on the deal out of New York.

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