What does Bank Intesa's recently aborted takeover bid for its compatriot insurer Assicurazioni Generali tell us about the future of the bancassurance model in Europe? Over the past month, various commentators have postulated a range of explanations for Intesa's interest, ranging from a desire to avoid further forced consolidation in the banking sector, through to a carefully calculated (and relatively risk free) response to the global headwinds affecting the asset management industry.

Life insurers could, at least in theory, find opportunities to diversify their longevity risk within larger financial services businesses, whilst also realising the capital efficiencies offered to them under Solvency 2 by ever wider lending-based activity.  Banks meanwhile continue you to retrench and slash their balance sheets. Might Intesa's bid represent a growing trend?...