By David French
(Reuters) - Buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC has approached Coface SA, the credit insurance company partly owned by French bank Natixis SA, with an acquisition offer, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The potential deal would allow Natixis, owned by French cooperative lender BPCE, to cash out on its remaining 42 percent stake in Coface following an initial public offering of the company in 2014.
The deal talks between Apollo and Coface are at an early stage, and there is no certainty they will result in an agreement, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Details of the price negotiations could not be learned.
Coface did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Apollo declined to comment.
Coface shares jumped 8.4 percent on the news to 10.70 euros, giving the company a market capitalization of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion).
Coface provides credit insurance to protect companies against potential nonpayment by their customers. It also offers debt collection, factoring and market research services to its clients.
Natixis was one of the French banks hardest hit by the crisis in 2007, when the collapse of bonds backed by poor quality mortgages - dubbed subprime - spread through financial markets. Natixis eventually had to be rescued by its parent bank, BPCE.
Natixis, France's fourth largest listed bank, has sold businesses related to retail banking such as consumer lending and factoring to BCPE for 2.7 billion euros, in order to focus on investment banking, asset management and insurance.
Apollo Global is a New York-based investor in private equity and corporate credit assets with assets under management of $303.3 billion as of the end of March.
(1 euro = $1.12)
(Reporting by David French in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)