26 Jun 2017

Suncorp ups offer for insurer Tower

12:59 pm on 26 June 2017

Australian insurance company Suncorp has increased its offer for local operator Tower.

Suncorp Place sign for insurance company.

Photo: AFP

Suncorp, which is making the offer through its local business Vero, raised its offer 10 cents a share to $1.40 after undertaking a detailed look through Tower's books and receiving approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

It already has a 19.9 percent stake in Tower, which was put on a trading halt as it evaluated the updated offer.

"In the meantime, the Tower board make no recommendation in respect of the merits of the Vero proposal," Tower said in a statement to the Stock Exchange.

A Canadian financial services company, Fairfax Financial Holdings, has also made an offer for Tower of $1.17 a share.

Tower has previously said neither of the two proposed take-over offers reflected the company's true value, although it backed Fairfax because it was the only firm bid on the table.

The Suncorp bid has been put to the Commerce Commission for clearance, because the Australian company is a big player in the New Zealand market with the Vero, AA Insurance and Asteron brands.

In May, Tower reported a smaller half-year loss as it managed to cut costs, but was hit by hefty claims from a string of natural disasters, and continuing claims from the Canterbury earthquake.

The company has beefed up its finances by $30 million to make sure it's strong enough to cope with any pressure from claims, and has been saving cash by suspending dividends.

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