Frankfurt am Main: German insurance heavyweight Allianz is interested in buying Australian competitor QBE, German business daily Handelsblatt reported Monday, although the second company denies talks are going on.
Chief executive Oliver Baete met with QBE counterpart John Neal in late December to discuss a possible tie-up, the newspaper reports, citing financial industry sources.
Allianz could offer as much as Aus$15 (10.60 euros, $11) per share, the sources told Handelsblatt, a 20-percent markup on QBE's price in Sydney on Friday that would value the firm at Aus$20 billion -- around 14 billion euros.
The Baete-Neal meeting was "friendly", the paper adds, but there is no concrete offer on the table from Allianz so far.
In a brief statement Monday, QBE said "it is not in discussions with Allianz or any other potential buyer".
An Allianz spokesman refused to comment on the report when contacted by AFP.
The Munich-based insurer is the focus of intense media speculation about its possible takeover targets.
Along with France's Axa and Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo, Allianz was last week reported to be considering a joint takeover of Italian insurer Generali, weakened by the departure of chief Mario Greco in early 2016.
Allianz boss Baete said in a recent interview the group was interested in making one or several acquisitions, but insisted that any takeover target must be of significant size, at a good price and amicable.
"The risks of such large takeovers are so great, that you really need a friendly relationship with the management to make it a success," he told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in mid-January.