RSA Insurance just got a £5.5 billion takeover offer from Zurich

RSA Insurance announced this morning that rival insurer Zurich has tabled a £5.5 billion ($US8.6 billion) offer for the company, following takeover talks first announced last month.

RSA’s board say they’re “willing to recommend the offer” if they get a firm bid at the 550p a share level Zurich has proposed.

RSA was the only company on the FTSE to make gains yesterday following Chinese market chaos. The company rose 1.8% after reports over the weekend of progress with Zurich and closed at 495p yesterday, 55p below the current offer level.

If the sale does go through it would be a win for Stephen Hester, the former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO who took over RSA last year.

Hester was tasked with a big fix-up job — RSA had issued three profit warnings towards the end of 2013, related to bad weather payout, and, more seriously, the company’s Irish division had a £200 million ($US315 million) balance sheet black hole due to accounting irregularities.

RSA has shown progress but shares are only 3% higher than when Hester joined.

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