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US equity firm buys stake in Partners Life

NZN 30/05/2016 Paul McBeth

US private equity firm Blackstone has taken a large minority stake in local health and life insurer Partners Life with a $200 million investment in preparation for a future listing.

Blackstone will hold less than 50 per cent with "a significant minority shareholding", though the actual level wasn't disclosed. The investment is new capital, meaning Partners Life's other shareholders, which includes Maui Capital and Rangatira Investments, will remain co-invested alongside the private equity firm, and is contingent on shareholder and regulatory approvals.

"Partnering with Blackstone at this stage of our evolution means Partners' medium-term capital requirements will be satisfied without further need to go back to equity markets," managing director Naomi Ballantyne said in a statement.

"We intend to go for a public listing when market conditions are right, and the support of Blackstone up to and throughout a future listing process will allow the company to solidify its market leading position in New Zealand."

Partners Life was set up in 2010 by Ballantyne, who had previously built up Sovereign before it was sold to ASB Bank and ClubLife which was later sold to ING, and has built up a customer base of 130,000.

The Auckland-based insurer was advised by First NZ Capital, Chapman Tripp and Deloitte New Zealand in the deal.

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