HONG KONG, March 21 (Reuters) - First Origin International
Ltd, a Hong Kong-based investment firm, has agreed to acquire
Hong Kong Life Insurance Ltd for HK$7.1 billion ($914 million),
said two of the owners of the Hong Kong insurer in the latest
insurance deal in the territory.
The unlisted insurance firm's owners - five Hong Kong-based
financial institutions including Chong Hing Insurance Co Ltd, a
unit of Chong Hing Bank Ltd - have agreed to sell
their respective equity stakes to First Origin.
First Origin mainly focuses on investments in financial and
technology sectors in Asia, one of the owners, Chong Hing Bank,
said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange late on
Hong Kong Life Insurance is one of the last remaining
independent life businesses in the financial centre, and ranked
10th in terms of new business annual premium among life insurers
in the city in the third quarter of 2016.
Last year, China's Thaihot Group, a relatively
new entrant to Hong Kong financial circles, agreed to buy Dah
Sing Financial's life insurance unit for $1.4 billion
in Hong Kong's most expensive insurance M&A.
In another deal that closed last year, China's JD Capital
bought Ageas' Hong Kong insurance unit for $1.4
Hong Kong is a developed life insurance market, with a life
and health insurance premium-to-GDP ratio of 13.4 percent in
2015, the second-highest in Asia, according to Swiss Re.
Still, the market offers strong growth, with Swiss Re
forecasting premiums to grow 9.2 percent in 2016, making it
attractive to new entrants.
Hong Kong Life Insurance was founded in 2001 by OCBC Wing
Hang Bank, Asia Insurance Co, Shanghai Commercial Bank, Chong
Hing Bank and Wing Lung Bank. OCBC Wing Hang Bank owns a 33
percent stake while the others own about 16.7 percent each.
Hong Kong Life sells insurance through 180 outlets using
branch networks of Chong Hing Bank, OCBC Wing Hang, Shanghai
Commercial and Wing Lung Bank.
The statement on Monday said the banks would now enter into
a product distribution agreement with the new owner of Hong Kong
Life after the closure of the transaction, which is subject to
($1 = 7.7663 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Stephen Coates)