Chiyoda Mutual Life Insurance Co. became the latest, and so far largest, victim of Japan’s troubled financial community, when it filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, listing outstanding debt of 2.94 trillion yen ($26.95 billion).
Chiyoda, Japan’s 12th largest life insurer, has been seeking merger partners to rescue the company from the severe financial problems which have to an extent affected all Japanese companies following the collapse of the real estate market over 10 years ago. Hit by the combination of depressed premium revenues, non-performing loans, increasingly worthless assets and falling share prices, while still obligated to pay generous benefits on its policies, Chiyoda became the first financial institution to seek bankruptcy protection under new laws enacted this year.
The company had held talks with Germany’s Allianz and with American International Group in the hopes of finding a foreign alliance to support the company, but no agreements have as yet been reached, although efforts are continuing.
According to a report in the Financial Times, Japan’s Financial Reconstruction Commission is actively seeking help for Chiyoda from Japanese banks and foreign institutions, an unusual move, which underlines the serious financial situation of many Japanese insurers.
The FT quoted Commission head Hideyuki Aizawa as saying, “If Chiyoda Life should collapse, it will be the failure of a very large life assurer, which will affect policyholders, lenders and employees. As far as possible we want to avoid bankruptcy and ensure survival.”
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