NORWAY - Norway's largest financial services group Den norske Bank is discussing a possible merger with Storebrand, the country’s largest insurance firm.

According to today’s Financial Times, the deal effectively amounts to a takeover bid, with DnB offering $2bn (€2.2bn) for Storebrand. It would create one of the largest asset management firms in the Nordic region, following DnB’s recent takeover of Swedish asset managers, Skandia.

DnB is apparently under pressure to make a move for Storebrand before legislative changes are introduced this autumn that will increase the possibility of takeovers. Sampo of Finland, Handelsbanken of Sweden and ING of the Netherlands are believed to be interested in Storebrand.

DnB blocked a bid by Sampo last year, even though the offer price was higher than DnB’s current bid. Norway has traditionally been hostile towards takeovers by foreign banks but the law change will make it easier for them to penetrate the Norwegian market.

Both sides have asked that trading in the shares of the two companies be suspended whilst the negotiations take place.