(Bloomberg) -- Swiss Re AG said it suspended the initial public offering of ReAssure Group Plc, as a plan that would have put a value of as much as $4.1 billion on the U.K. unit fizzled due to weak investor demand.

At a time when equity markets are trading close to all-time highs, the world’s second-largest reinsurer said it took the decision due to heightened caution and weaker underlying demand among large institutional investors in the U.K. primary market. Bloomberg was first to report that the firm was considering the suspension on Wednesday.

“While we firmly believe that the long-term interests of ReAssure are best served by a more diversified shareholder base, there has been no pressing need for Swiss Re to divest shares at a price that we consider to be unrepresentative of ReAssure’s value and future prospects,” Swiss Re’s Chief Financial Officer John Dacey said in a statement.

ReAssure was offering its IPO shares at 280 pence to 330 pence apiece, implying a market value of as much as 3.3 billion pounds ($4.1 billion).

Dacey said Swiss Re still aims reduce its stake in ReAssure. In the meantime, Swiss Re and shareholder MS&AD remain fully committed to the unit’s management team, and will continue to help fund its future deals, Dacey added.

The delay to ReAssure’s IPO may herald a delay in the timing of a much larger transaction in the life insurance and asset management sector. Prudential Plc is planning to sell off its European business M&G Prudential, a unit that it valued at 13.6 billion pounds ($17 billion) in its annual results back in March. When the demerger happens, Prudential shareholders will get one new Prudential Plc share and one new M&G Prudential share.

A spokesman for Prudential said the company was proceeding with the demerger and would update the market in due course.

Shares of Swiss Re fell 0.2% as of 11:36 a.m. in Zurich, extending a decline of 2.5% yesterday after the Bloomberg report. Swiss Re has a market capitalization of 32.6 billion Swiss francs ($33 billion).

ReAssure is a specialized consolidator of closed-book life insurance businesses, which manage existing policies until maturity and aren’t open to new contracts. Companies like ReAssure and rival Phoenix Group Holdings Plc have been buying up portfolios from insurers facing the challenge of managing the policies amid rising costs.

(Updates with details of Prudential’s impending demerger in the sixth paragraph; an earlier version of the story was corrected to show that $4.1 billion was the total potential value of the unit.)

--With assistance from Will Hadfield.

To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net;Jan-Henrik Förster in London at jforster20@bloomberg.net;Myriam Balezou in London at mbalezou@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, Marcus Wright, Russell Ward

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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