Li's group completes acquisition of ING life business
Pacific Century Group (PCG) has completed the acquisition of ING Group's life-insurance operations in Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand for US$2.14 billion (Bt64 billion) in its bid to create a pan-Asian insurance business.
PCG, established by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing's son Richard Li, announced yesterday that the deal was completed after receipt of necessary regulatory approvals.
PCG said the acquisitions marked the first step in the group's plan to develop a world-class pan-Asian insurance business "to capitalise on the long-term potential of the insurance sector through innovative products, customer-friendly technology and the best in customer service across the region".
PCG chairman Richard Li said the company was extremely impressed with the quality and enthusiasm of the staff and agents in these companies and "we are confident that we have solid foundations upon which to grow and develop a world-class operation".
With a vision to redefine the insurance industry and practices across the region, PCG has established a group management team, which, he said, will be further strengthened in the coming months.
PCG is in the process of developing a new identity and branding for its insurance business. Li said the new brand, to be unveiled in the coming months, would reflect the group's ambition for its insurance operations to break new ground, conveying a fresher and more innovative approach to accelerate the growth of the business and win the hearts of customers.
PCG has collaborated with ING to ensure a smooth and seamless transition, with no impact on current customers and their policies, Li said.
"Today is the beginning of our journey to build a world-class pan-Asian insurance business. We will strengthen our operations in Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand, as well as look for opportunities to expand into other Asian markets," he said.
"We will invest in people, in customer-friendly new technology and in how we service our customers to ensure we take forward a solid brand that will, in time, be one of the best."
The South China Morning Post quoted one person familiar with the deal as saying that it values ING's Hong Kong business at about $2.1 billion and the Thai unit at less than $200 million.
It is also a strategy in step with his father Li Ka-shing's succession plan to provide him with cash while minimising competition between him and his elder brother Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, who will take the helm of the family property group Cheung Kong (Holdings) and conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.
ING's Hong Kong and Macau operations, which serve more than 270,000 customers, have about 400 employees and 1,600 agents. In Thailand, the company has about 480 employees and more than 4,000 agents.
ING is divesting its insurance and investment management businesses before the end of next year as part of efforts to repay the ?10-billion (Bt389-billion) bail-out it received during the global financial crisis.
The acquisition of ING Life in Thailand was first announced in October 2012. In Thailand, TMB Bank is a major distribution channel for the insurance company. In 2012, first-year premiums of policies sold through the bank reached Bt2.3 billion, up 56 per cent from the previous year. Coupled with renewal premiums, the total value reached Bt4.2 billion, up 24 per cent.