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UPDATE 1-Genworth considers strategic options, including going private

(Corrects headline, paragraphs 1 and 2 to say the company would be open to selling its long-term care insurance unit but has no plans to do so)

By Sudarshan Varadhan

April 29 (Reuters) - Life and mortgage insurer Genworth Financial Inc is considering going private and would be open to selling its long-term care insurance unit, among other strategic options, Chief Executive Tom McInerney said.

McInerney said that, although Genworth would be open to selling its long-term care insurance unit, it could be difficult to find a buyer. Asked whether a sale of this business is possible, he said: "We are open to that but I don't put much weight on that being something that'd be viable some time soon."

Genworth's shares rose as much as 11 percent on Wednesday.

The company, which was valued at about $4 billion as of Tuesday, controls 30-35 percent of the U.S. long-term care market.

Several insurers have exited the long-term care business in the past few years, bringing down the number of companies offering these policies to less than 20 currently from about 100 in 2002.

McInerney said in February that it was a mistake on the part of big insurers such as Metlife and Unum group to exit the business, which he considered to be attractive in the long run.

Genworth had also said at the time that the long-term care business remained "a priority".

McInerney said on Wednesday that long-term care was a "very complex business" with "a lot of challenges."

"But my view would be that it is very unlikely that anybody would be interested in that business at this point," he told Reuters.

Long-term care insurance assists people suffering from chronic conditions by covering costs for extended care at home or in assisted living facilities.

McInerney also confirmed that Genworth was considering a sale of its life and annuity business.

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Genworth was looking to sell Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Co (GLAIC).

"We're in the early stages of talking to players who might be interested in the GLAIC entity," McInerney said.

He said he expected a "significant loss" on the sale of the company's lifestyle protection business, which offers credit-linked insurance against illness, accident, unemployment, disability and death.

Genworth reported a profit for the first quarter on Tuesday after posting losses in the prior two quarters due to charges related to its long-term care business.

The company's shares were up 10 percent at $8.79 in late morning trading. The stock was among the top percentage gainers on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Editing by Simon Jennings and Kirti Pandey)