A bidding war has erupted over American Bankers Insurance Group, a Miami company that sells credit-related insurance programs to banks and other businesses.

On Tuesday, Cendant Corp., a Parsippany, N.J.-based conglomerate that deals in real estate, travel, shopping, and other businesses, announced a cash tender offer of $58 a share, topping a December offer of $47 by American International Group of New York.

By 3 p.m. Wednesday, nearly 1.6 million American Bankers shares had traded hands, compared with average volume of about 140,000 shares. The price held steady at around $55 a share.

"We're seeing recognition of the fact that it's a powerhouse marketing operation," said Nancy Benacci, an analyst with McDonald & Co. Investments, Cleveland. "They've been successful in distributing their product through the credit card, bank, and consumer finance markets."

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