LONDON/SAO PAULO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Grupo BTG Pactual SA is in talks to sell its majority stake in Brazilian insurer Pan Seguros, with Axa and MetLife among firms bidding, three sources familiar with the matter said.
Brazilian bank BTG Pactual has rushed to sell assets to raise cash and shore up investor confidence following the arrest of its founder André Esteves in November.
Other firms bidding for the Pan Seguros stake include Zurich and Assicurazioni Generali, as well as U.S.-based Liberty Mutual and some major Japanese insurers, two of the sources said.
French insurer CNP Assurances SA is another bidder for the Brazilian insurer, which provides life and home insurance, a third source told Reuters.
The sources said talks about the sale BTG Pactual's 51 percent stake in Pan Seguros were at an advanced stage.
Latin American insurance markets are under penetrated, insurance specialists say, providing an opportunity for international insurers whose home markets are mature.
"Bidders are queuing up because of the lack of available targets in Latin America," one of the sources said.
BTG Pactual had no immediate comment.
Spokesmen at Axa, MetLife, Zurich, CNP Assurances and Generali declined to comment, while Liberty Mutual was not immediately available for comment.
BTG Pactual took control of Pan Seguros last year. Caixapar, the investment arm of Brazilian federal savings bank Caixa Economica Federal, has the remaining 49 percent and wants to hold on to it, one of the sources said.
BTG Pactual aims to clinch a deal for Pan Seguros by the end of the first quarter and has asked bidders to submit binding offers in February, the sources said.
First round bids in December valued the business at between 1 and 1.3 billion Brazilian reais ($300 million), they said. Axa and MetLife submitted the highest offers in the initial bidding round, one of the sources said.
Axa has said publicly it wants to increase its exposure to emerging markets.
BTG Pactual has sold pools of loans and a stake in Brazil's largest hospital chain as well as obtaining an emergency credit lifeline worth 1.6 billion reais from Brazil's deposit guarantee fund to try and allay concerns of a cash crunch.
The BTG Pactual partners who replaced Esteves at the helm are also holding parallel talks to sell Swiss private bank BSI, which BTG bought from Generali less than a year ago. (Additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London, Guillermo Parra-Bernal in Sao Paulo, Maya Nikolaeva in Paris and Stephen Jewkes in Milan; editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith)