Chinatrust Still Interested in Pursuing AIG Taiwan Unit Talks

By Rachel Lee | July 22, 2010

Chinatrust Financial Holding Co, Taiwan’s top credit card issuer, is happy to talk to American International Group Inc (AIG) about its Taiwan life insurance unit if the U.S. firm is unable to seal an existing deal to sell the unit.

“We are still interested in Nan Shan. If AIG is willing to talk to us before the bid deadline, we would be happy to take them up,” Chinatrust President Daniel Wu told reporters on Thursday.

Chinatrust had originally bid for Nan Shan last year when AIG put the unit up for sale as it retrenched following its bailout.

It lost out to a consortium of diversified battery maker China Strategic Holdings and Hong Kong investment fund Primus Pacific Partners.

But the two have been unable to seal the $2.2 billion deal amid concern in Taiwan over their political connections in mainland China, their lack of expertise in the insurance business and their ability to raise money for future operations.

The deadline for the deal is Oct. 12.

Wu said that if Chinatrust were to reopen talks with AIG, it would use its original offer price as a base. He declined to say what that price was, but sources at the time of the bid told Reuters it was about $2.4 billion — higher than the eventual winning bid.

It lost out because it did not meet other conditions imposed on the buyer.

After losing out, it had agreed to buy 30 percent of Nan Shan from China Strategic and Primus when they sealed their deal, but that agreement expired in June and was not renewed.

Chinatrust said earlier this month that it saw insurance as a major growth driver, and that was behind its continued interest in Nan Shan.

(Editing by Jonathan Standing and Chris Lewis)

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