(Adds dropped word in eighth paragraph)
MILAN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Italian insurer Generali has held informal deal talks with Guggenheim Partners on a range of options including a full acquisition of the U.S. investment firm's asset management business, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing sources.
The options also include a partnership or a strategic investment in Guggenheim, and are intended to bolster the Italian company's asset management business, the report said.
Under a plan unveiled in December, Generali had earmarked up to 3 billion euros ($2.9 billion) for mergers and acquisitions in insurance and asset management businesses, citing possible deals in Europe, Asia and the United States.
A source close to the situation told Reuters Generali has been exploring several potential U.S. acquisition targets in the asset management business in recent months and Guggenheim may be among them.
Guggenheim Investments, the asset management and investment advisory unit of Guggenheim Partners, has more than $228 billion in assets across fixed income, equity and alternative strategies, according to its website.
For a deal of this size Generali may need to divest a core asset like its private bank Banca Generali, the source said.
A spokesperson for Generali said the insurer assesses potential M&A opportunities on a continuous basis but no decision has been made so far.
"From time to time we have inquiries and even discussions with third parties who want to consider joint ventures or who seek to make capital investments in our firm," a Guggenheim spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
"We do not comment on these conversations which occur routinely and often more than one at a time."
According to Bloomberg the Italian insurer has considered selling Banca Generali to its largest shareholder, Mediobanca, to help finance a potential deal with Guggenheim.
The source told Reuters there were no active talks between Generali and Mediobanca on Banca Generali for now.
Mediobanca had studied a bid for Banca Generali back in 2020 and approached Generali, but then quickly dropped the plan due to the COVID crisis, sources told Reuters at the time.
Shares in Banca Generali rose 19% while Mediobanca rose more than 6% after the report. Generali shares traded up 1.9%.
The Bloomberg report said that considerations with Guggenheim were at an early stage with on-and-off talks, and added that Generali could also end up pursuing another asset management target in the United States. ($1 = 1.0205 euros) (Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro in Milan, Saeed Azhar in New York, Lavanya Ahire in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V, Shinjini Ganguli and Richard Chang)