UPDATE 2-National Australia Bank weighing sale of life insurance unit -sources

Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:21am EDT
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* Insurance unit has estimated value of $800 mln -sources

* Business could draw insurers from Japan, Canada

* NAB keen on long-term marketing deal with buyer -source (Adds analyst comment, background on NAB performance)

By Swati Pandey and Denny Thomas

SYDNEY/HONG KONG, Sept 24 (Reuters) - National Australia Bank is considering the sale of its life insurance unit worth an estimated $800 million, seeking to boost earnings and returns on capital, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Under new CEO Andrew Thorburn, Australia's fourth-largest bank by market value hopes to speed up the disposal of assets to help it focus on its domestic and New Zealand franchises.

Last month, it announced plans to list U.S. bank Great Western Bancorp Inc, adding that it could offload 100 percent of its ownership over time. Expectations are also high that it will move to sell its UK assets, Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale Bank.

Melbourne-based NAB is likely to test potential buyer interest for the life insurance unit before deciding whether to launch any formal sale, the people said, adding that an advisor had yet to be appointed.

Insurers from Japan, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia could be interested in the business, they added.   Continued...