DWS Group and Assicurazioni Generali are among suitors that submitted initial bids this week for the asset management arm of NN Group, people familiar with the matter said.
The unit, known as NN Investment Partners, has separately attracted early interest from UBS Group and Allianz, the people said. Several other international asset managers, including some U.S. firms, are also pursuing a deal, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
NN said in April it's examining options for its asset management arm, including a merger and partial sale. The business, which oversees assets mainly derived from NN's life insurance premiums, manages about €300 billion ($364 billion), according to its website.
Any transaction could value the unit at about €1.5 billion, the people said. Deliberations are ongoing, and there's no certainty they will result in a deal, the people said. NN may opt to keep a minority stake in the business, which mostly manages fixed-income investments, and sign a cooperation agreement with any acquirer, the people said.
Representatives for DWS, Generali, NN and UBS declined to comment, while a spokesman for Allianz couldn't immediately be reached for comment during a public holiday in Germany.
NN's review comes amid pressure from activist Elliott Management Corp. to unlock value for shareholders. Shares in NN have risen almost 15% since Elliott revealed its stake in the insurer in February 2020, giving it a market value of €13.4 billion.
Several asset management businesses have been changing hands, as banks and insurers look to sell out because they aren't able to compete with international fund houses and low-cost providers such as Vanguard Group and BlackRock.
In the last 18 months, Amundi, the acquisitive European fund manager, has struck deals for Sabadell Asset Management and Societe Generale's Lyxor investment arm. Elsewhere, Bank of Montreal recently sold its international asset manager and there are questions over the future of Credit Suisse Group's funds arm in the wake of the Greensill Capital scandal.
DWS, a publicly traded asset manager majority owned by Deutsche Bank, has been considering transformational takeovers under Chief Executive Officer Asoka Woehrmann. Generali has been scouting for asset management targets for years to boost scale and recurring fee income.