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Belgian insurer Ageas abandons pursuit of UK rival Direct Line

(Reuters) -Belgian insurer Ageas SA said on Friday it did not intend to make a further offer for Direct Line after the British home and motor insurer turned down two previous proposals.

Direct Line rejected a revised 3.17 billion pound ($4 billion) takeover bid last week from Ageas, saying it "significantly undervalued" the company.

The Belgian insurer said on Friday it had not been able to "identify additional elements based on publicly available information that would justify significant adjustments to the terms of its possible offer," leading it to bow out altogether.

Ageas had to make a firm offer for Direct Line by March 27 or walk away, under British takeover rules.

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Direct Line, which has brands such as Churchill, Darwin and Privilege, as well as Green Flag rescue policies, said it was confident in the group's standalone prospects and stood by new CEO Adam Winslow's leadership.

"The Board believes under Adam Winslow's leadership the company is well-positioned to drive material improvement in performance," it said in a statement.

Direct Line posted an operating loss for 2023 on Thursday as it grappled with high motor claims inflation, but reinstated its dividend. The insurer also announced a comprehensive strategy review, with analysts at Jefferies describing the results as a "platform for recovery".

KBW analysts said after the latest Ageas announcement that the Belgian insurer had shown "discipline" in choosing not to make a third offer.

($1 = 0.7941 pound)

(Reporting by Richard Rohan Francis and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Alan Barona)