U.S. based insurer Allstate has announced plans to sell its European auto insurance business to London’s Direct Line, a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland. The decision to unload the German and Italian direct auto business follows Allstate’s departure from the Japanese market early last year. The move is intended to allow the company to focus on its North American operations, says company chairman, president and CEO Edward Liddy. The European operations “need a significant investment of capital and management resources”, and, he adds, “we believe that greater potential for Allstate exists in North America, with the expansion of our property and casualty business through new distribution channels, and the wider range of financial products and services that we are now offering”. Details of the sale, which is expected to close in the third quarter 2001, were not released.