HSBC Approaches Japanese Insurers on Sale of Non-Life Unit

October 6, 2011

HSBC Holdings has approached the top three property/casualty insurers in Japan about the sale of its non-life insurance business, which could fetch more than $1 billion, sources close to the matter said on Thursday.

Japanese insurers have been aggressively pursuing acquisition opportunities overseas as they look to expand beyond their shrinking home market and diversify the risks in their insurance portfolios.

The companies, MS&AD Insurance, Tokio Marine and NKSJ Holdings, are studying the offer to determine whether they will participate in bidding, said the sources, who were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly. The first round of the bidding is expected in mid-October.

European insurers Allianz and AXA SA are also among the potential bidders for HSBC’s general insurance business.

HSBC is selling its non-life insurance operations in Hong Kong, Singapore, some Latin American countries and France. The company has already divested its non-life business in Britain.

The non-life insurance businesses earned profit before tax of about $1 billion in 2010, up from about $750 million in 2009, according to a company presentation in June.

Non-life insurance premiums totalled $1.3 billion in 2010, according to HSBC’s balance sheet.

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