By Freya Berry
LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Dutch-domiciled insurer Brit Group is to price its London listing at 235-240 pence a share, two sources said on Thursday, valuing the company at up to 960 million pounds ($1.6 billion).
The Lloyd's of London underwriter, which operates in the commercial insurance field, is planning a 25 percent stake sale of 100 million shares. The final price is to be announced on Thursday after the markets close, but one of the sources said that the order books were well-covered and a price at the upper end of the new range was expected.
The price range has been narrowed from the original range of 230-275 pence a share.
"The goal is to have a long-term quality shareholder book," said a source familiar with the matter, adding that the books for the listing were covered early.
Brit Group is owned by private equity funds Apollo and CVC, which will both remain majority shareholders following the stake sale. CVC declined to comment, while Apollo were not immediately available for comment.
Brit Group's price announcement comes the same day as books for Norway's Vardia Insurance are also set to close.
Vardia is planning to raise 175-225 million Norwegian crowns ($28.93-37.2 million) with an Oslo market debut set for April, as it seeks out new purchases in order to strengthen its position in the country.
Brit Group is eyeing expansion abroad rather than action closer to home. The company said on March 4 that it was intending to float as part of plans to expand in the United States, Asia and Bermuda.
Brit Group was not immediately available to comment. ($1=0.6037 British Pounds) ($1=6.0480 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Freya Berry; Editing by Greg Mahlich)