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AXA in Talks to Sell Singapore Unit Which Could Raise $700 Million

2021-01-20 10:42:46

HSBC Holdings Plc and the insurance company of Malayan Banking Bhd. Are among the shortlisted candidates for AXA SA's Singapore operations, who, according to people familiar with the case, could generate about $ 700 million on a sale.

The UK bank and Etiqa, the majority of which is owned by a Maybank joint venture, have advanced to the next round with a few weeks to go before a deadline to submit binding offers, the people said. At least one Chinese company also among those invited to submit offers, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the case is private.

Axa is considering a sale of its Singapore operations as it seeks to raise money for the divestment of its peripheral operations, Bloomberg News reported last August. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl seeks to shift AXA's focus on property and casualty insurance after the purchase of XL Group Ltd. for $ 15.3 billion in 2018. Since then, the CEO has looked at options for smaller companies around the world, including in the Middle East. , to help pay for the XL deal.

The Singapore branch, which offers life, property and casualty insurance, generated 615 million euros ($ 745 million) in revenues in 2019, according to AXA's annual report. It also offers savings and investment services, the website shows.

HSBC plans to accelerate its expansion in Asia in the upcoming overhaul of its strategy, Chairman Mark Tucker told the virtual Asian Financial Forum this week. The lender had said last year that it would accelerate investment in the region, where it makes most of its profits, but was grappling with risks from Hong Kong politics and the coronavirus outbreak.

Etiqa started in 2005 when Maybank Ageas, a joint venture between Maybank and Ageas SA, merged with National Insurance Bhd in Malaysia. The company offers general and life insurance, according to its website. It also operates in Singapore.

Discussions are ongoing and bidders may still decide to withdraw from the process, the people said. An AXA representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while an HSBC representative declined to comment. Chris Eng, chief strategy officer for Etiqa, said the company is constantly on the lookout for opportunities and value in Southeast Asia and declined to comment further.

–With help from Yantoultra Ngui, Alexandre Rajbhandari and Elffie Chew.

Photo: Central business district skyline from Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Photo credit: Lauryn Ishak / Bloomberg

Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.

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