Top Biz News

Foreign insurers in JVs with local money managers

By Hu Yuanyuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-26 07:58

Aviva, the world's fifth-largest insurance group, has inked an agreement with Henan-based Central China Securities to set up a joint-venture asset management company, sources told China Daily yesterday.

"Aviva will hold a 49 percent stake in the joint venture, while the remaining 51 percent would be held by Central China Securities," the sources said. "The new company will apply for regulatory approval soon."

Aviva has a 50-50 joint venture life insurance company with China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs Corp (COFCO) Ltd. The insurer started operations in 2003.

Kathleen Jiang, head of the strategic planning sector at Aviva China, told China Daily in an earlier interview that setting up a new firm would make the structure clearer, although it will be more time-consuming compared with acquiring an existing company.

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Canada's top life insurer Manulife Financial Corp, however, has chosen the latter path. It said late on Monday that it would buy a 49 percent stake in ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co for $156 million in cash, from Fortis Bank SA, which is in turn controlled by France's largest bank BNP Paribas.

"This accelerates our expansion in China's huge growth market by several years," Donald Guloien, Manulife's chief executive, said in a statement.

The ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010, and the new joint venture will be called Manulife TEDA Fund Management Co Ltd. The company said the acquisition is expected to boost Manulife Financial's earnings in the first year and have a negligible impact on capital levels.

Established in 2002, ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co currently has $3.8 billion assets under management.

According to Manulife's estimate, the asset management industry in China is poised for rapid growth over the next decade, with assets under management slated to exceed $1 trillion from $338 billion now.

"China has one of the highest savings rates in the world at 51 percent of GDP and to date, a very high proportion of household wealth is held in the form of deposits," Manulife said.

More than 30 foreign institutions, including JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, have formed fund ventures in China, while more companies are seeking access to the Chinese fund market.