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Asia-Pacific financial institutions M&A interest tracker

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Asia-Pacific financial institutions M&A interest tracker

Editor's note: This tracker covers possible deals reported by media across the Asia-Pacific region over a certain period. The information is gathered from various news sources, excludes confirmed deals and is limited to potential acquisitions or sales involving companies or operations in the region. Click here to read the previous month's article.

The insurance and wealth management sectors drew investor interest as a number of possible deals emerged in September, with the Australian market leading the pack as two of the country's major banks, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, look to shed part of their operations.

CBA said Sept. 21 that it is reviewing several options for its global asset management business, Colonial First State Global Asset Management. During the month, the bank announced the sale of its Australian and New Zealand life insurance business to AIA Group Ltd. The bank is more likely to sell the asset management business following the sale of its life insurance operations, analysts said. The bank may also opt for an IPO of the business or a trade sale or spinoff, said Brian Johnson, an equity analyst at CLSA in Sydney.

Below is a snapshot of September reports of possible deals compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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For its part, ANZ is still in discussions with several parties as it works through options for its wealth business, the bank said Sept. 18. The bank was responding to media speculation that it had received offers for its wealth division, with one offer "in the high [A]$4 billions," The Australian Financial Review reported Sept. 17.

ANZ reportedly prefers bids for its entire wealth division, but the bank is not discounting contractual agreements with third parties for parts of the business. Zurich Insurance Group AG was reportedly the final bidder for ANZ's life insurance and wealth business, Reuters reported Sept. 15.

Meanwhile, Australian private equity firm Crescent Capital Partners has received expressions of interest for its 38% stake in ClearView Wealth Ltd., The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog reported Sept. 22. An interested buyer approached the private equity firm about the stake, but the talks were informal and it is unclear if they progressed. Japan's Sony Life Insurance Co. Ltd. may also reportedly place a bid for the stake given that its 2016 deal for a 14.9% stake in ClearView Wealth included a call option if it did not bid for the company within 18 months.

AMP Ltd. is in discussions with China Taiping Life Insurance (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd. for a sale of its life insurance unit, AMP Life Ltd., The Australian reported Sept. 28. If the deal does push through, it would be the first Chinese deal in the Australian life insurance market.

China Taiping Life Insurance's parent, China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co. Ltd., is also reportedly bidding for AXA's Hong Kong wealth management unit. The French insurer is said to be looking to divest AXA Wealth Management (Hong Kong) Ltd. to focus on fast-growing businesses in Asia, Reuters reported Sept. 13. China Taiping Insurance Holdings is one of about two dozen bidders for the unit. AXA aims to complete the sale in a few months.

Interested buyers were not just looking in the Australian market for possible deals. South Korea's Samsung Securities Co. Ltd. is eyeing a 10% stake in Vietnam-based asset manager Dragon Capital Group Ltd., Business Korea reported Sept. 7. The South Korean securities company will collaborate with Hong Kong's Caldera Pacific to jointly acquire a 40% stake in Dragon Capital.

Singapore-based Great Eastern Holdings Ltd. is considering several options for its minority stake in its Malaysian unit to comply with foreign ownership rules in country. The insurer said Sept. 21 that its assessment of its stake in Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Bhd. is preliminary at this stage and there is no certainty that it would enter into any agreement for the stake.

In India, two insurers are considering merger talks in a transaction that could result in one of the largest insurers in the country. The parent companies of Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and Aditya Birla Sun Life Ins Co. Ltd. are in discussions over a possible merger, The Economic Times reported Sept. 21. Max Financial Services Ltd. and Aditya Birla Group are having early stage negotiations following the termination of a proposed merger between Max Financial Services and HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

The two companies are considering a "plain" merger of the two insurance units, with Aditya Birla Group being the biggest shareholder of the merged entity. Another option being considered is Aditya Birla Group buying into Max Financial. There is no guarantee that the talks would result in a transaction, sources told the publication.

Also in India, Prudential Plc and ICICI Bank Ltd. may divest part of their stake in the Indian joint venture ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd., Bloomberg News reported Sept. 20. The two may sell a combined 6% stake in ICICI Prudential Life to help the company meet minimum public float requirements.

Meanwhile, two Japanese financial companies are looking abroad for acquisitions. Nippon Life Insurance Co. is looking to acquire a 20% to 30% stake in U.S.-based asset manager TCW Group Inc. from Carlyle Group LP, The Nikkei reported Sept. 27. The Japanese insurer has preferential negotiation rights with TCW Group to acquire the stake. The two companies are looking to finalize a deal by the end of 2017. The investment amount has yet to be determined but is expected to be between ¥50 billion and ¥100 billion.

Development Bank of Japan Inc. will acquire a 5% stake in New York-based M&A advisory company and investment bank BDA Partners, the Financial Times reported Sept. 7. The Japanese bank is looking to increase its involvement in outbound deal-making by local clients.

To read articles about other deal possibilities, click on the following headlines:

Report: Investor group to offload stake in BFI Finance Indonesia

Report: Chinese conglomerate to sell HK$4.75B of China Minsheng Banking shares

Report: Mitsubishi UFJ Financial to exit Malaysia's CIMB Group

Tokai Tokyo Financial forms tie-up with Vietnam's Bao Viet Securities

Report: J.C. Flowers looking to sell stake in Shinsei Bank

Report: Vijaya Bank, Dena Bank study possible merger

Report: Alipay in talks to acquire stake in Pakistan's Telenor Microfinance Bank

Utkarsh Small Finance Bank to raise additional funds via stake sale

Canara Bank to sell 70% stake in JV

Bharat Financial, IndusInd Bank agree to explore strategic options

IDBI Bank to divest stake in Small Industries Development Bank of India

Report: Blackstone Group to acquire stake in Indian asset reconstruction company