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Genworth mortgage insurance arm IPO on ice

Company had planned to take Enact public after China Oceanwide merger fell through

Genworth Financial said it will delay the initial public offering of its recently rebranded mortgage insurance arm, Enact Holdings.

Tom McInerny, the president and CEO of Genworth, said that recent market volatility led the company to put off the IPO. The offering has been in the works since at least January.

“In light of the recent significant trading volatility in the mortgage insurance sector, Genworth’s Board of Directors determined that current market pricing for the planned offering does not accurately reflect Enact’s value,” said McInerney. “We maintain our positive long-term outlook for the MI sector, given strong trends in the U.S. housing market and expected tailwinds as the economy recovers from COVID-19.”

The Richmond, Virginia-based company initially considered taking its mortgage insurance arm public to pay down $1 billion in debt coming due this year. In a statement, Genworth said that meeting those “near-term obligations” is not dependent on an IPO. The company had approximately $757 in cash and liquid assets at the end of March.

Genworth had previously highlighted the planned IPO as part of a contingency plan after a merger with China Oceanwide Holdings Group fell through. The plan also included the $1.8 billion sale of its Canadian mortgage insurance business in 2019 and a $750 million debt offering in August 2020. Genworth also said it settled existing litigation with AXA, the french insurance firm, in July 2020.

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In January, the two companies said the merger faced difficulties because of COVID-19 restrictions and the finalization of financing terms. But long before the pandemic, the merger was beset with multiple lawsuits and compliance delays, including a review by a governmental inter-agency committee tasked with determining if transactions could impact on national security.

After the companies blew past a December 2020 merger deadline, Genworth announced it would tap the public markets for funds. Along with the IPO, it had also planned to sell 4 million of its shares to Bayview Asset Management in a private transaction.

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