(Bloomberg) -- Assicurazioni Generali SpA is planning to sell a roughly €20 billion ($21 billion) Italian life insurance portfolio as part of a plan to improve profitability, people familiar with the matter said. 

The Italian insurer, which has been working with an adviser to review the portfolio, may start a sale process as soon as January, the people said, asking to not be identified discussing confidential information. 

The sale includes legacy policies from Societa Cattolica di Assicurazioni, a smaller rival that Generali bought last year, and Genertel, according to the people. It is unclear how much the portfolio would fetch in a sale. 

Deliberations are ongoing and no final decisions on the size or timing of any deal have been taken, they said. A representative for Generali declined to comment.

The market for back books, or portfolios of old insurance policies, has been an active area of dealmaking as it provides a way for insurers to free up capital. Generali is among those that have been cutting exposure to life products.

A year ago, Generali’s Chief Executive Officer Philippe Donnet outlined plans to return as much as €5.6 billion in dividends to shareholders by 2024, as well as expand in non-life insurance asset management.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.