Generali, Great Eastern Weigh Bids for Malaysia Insurers, Part Owned by AXA: Sources

By , and | February 18, 2020

Singapore’s Great Eastern Holdings Ltd. and Assicurazioni Generali SpA are among potential bidders for the life and general insurance businesses in Malaysia that AXA SA and Affin Bank Bhd. own, according to people familiar with the matter.

Great Eastern, which is majority-owned by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., and Italy’s Generali are working with their respective advisers on potential offers, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. The first round of bidding is expected to conclude by the end of next month, the people said.

AXA and Affin have been exploring options for their Malaysian joint venture, which could fetch about $650 million, Bloomberg News reported in September. They are seeking around $500 million on AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd., and as much as $150 million from AXA Affin Life Insurance Bhd in a transaction, the people familiar with the matter have said.

Deliberations are ongoing and the companies could decide not to proceed with an offer, said the people. Representatives for AXA, Generali and Great Eastern declined to comment, while a representative for Affin didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

AXA Affin General Insurance is among the top medical and health insurers in Malaysia, with 5,000 agents across the nation. The company underwrote 1.44 billion ringgit ($347 million) in gross earned premiums and posted a net income of 100 million ringgit in 2018, according to its latest annual report.

AXA Affin Life Insurance, set up in 2006, earned gross premiums of 463.4 million ringgit in 2018, down from 490 million ringgit a year earlier, its annual report shows. The company’s losses narrowed to 8.1 million ringgit from 17.7 million a year ago.

AXA owns 49.99% of the Malaysian general business operations, while Affin Bank holds 49.95%, according to AXA’s website. In AXA Affin Life, Affin controls 51% and the rest belongs to the French insurer.

–With assistance from Flavia Rotondi.

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