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22 Aug 2019, Stella Zlatareva, EMIS M&A Team

Hong Kong’s FWD Group snaps up Thailand’s fifth largest insurer in top SE Asia insurance deal

Following talks with various insurance giants, in early July, Thai lender Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) agreed to sell its life insurance arm to Hong Kong-based insurer FWD Group for over USD 3bn. The buyer, owned by the youngest son of tycoon Li Ka-shing, entered the Thai market in 2013 with the purchase of ING’s local unit and already has more than 800,000 group customers. Through the deal for SCB Life Assurance, it will command a 14% market share in terms of total premiums. 

The acquisition involves a long-term bancassurance partnership that will see SCB distribute FWD‘s life insurance products to its customers in Thailand. It also comes at a time when the Thai government is mulling the introduction of compulsory life insurance for all foreign visitors later in 2019. Thailand, and Southeast Asia as a whole, are currently markets with lower insurance penetration rates. This aspect, coupled with the higher growth rates in the region, spurs competition among multi-national insurance groups to expand locally. DealWatch records show that since 2016, FWD Group has acquired at least four other insurers in the region, while earlier in 2019 the company agreed to buy the Hong Kong operations of U.S. sector giant Metlife for an estimated USD 500mn. 

SCB Life and FWD are currently the fifth and eighth largest life insurers in Thailand. 

Original source: EMIS - DealWatch