The most read financial stories in S&P Global Market Intelligence's Asia-Pacific coverage include Anbang's sale of its luxury hotel portfolio, while editors' picks feature bad loans eating up Chinese rural commercial banks' asset quality.
1. Report: Anbang selling US$5.5B luxury hotel portfolio
Troubled insurer Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. is considering selling a luxury hotel portfolio of about 15 hotels that it acquired in 2016 from Blackstone Group LP for US$5.5 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. If completed, the transaction would be Anbang's most significant sale overseas after the takeover by the Chinese government.
2. Aditya Birla Capital, Värde Partners partner on platform to invest in assets
India's Aditya Birla Capital Ltd. and unit Aditya Birla ARC agreed to enter into a strategic joint venture with U.S.-based investment company Värde Partners Inc. to set up a joint platform to invest in stressed and distressed assets in India. As part of the platform, Värde through its affiliates will acquire a 50% joint controlling stake in Aditya Birla ARC, which is wholly owned by Aditya Birla Capital.
3. Report: Hanover Insurance, China Re agree in principle on Chaucer sale
U.S.-based Hanover Insurance Group Inc. and China Reinsurance (Group) Corp. reached an agreement in principle for the Asian insurer to acquire the Lloyd's business Chaucer, The Insurance Insider reported.
4. Prudential PLC CEO bats away rumors of Asian unit sale
Prudential PLC is not in any talks to sell its Asian operation and does not have any imminent plans to follow Axa in spinning off its U.S. business. The U.K.-based insurer's CEO, Mike Wells, acknowledged that Prudential's businesses in Asia and elsewhere are potentially attractive to would-be suitors.
5. Fosun mulling insurance M&A globally, with a focus on Europe
China-based conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. is evaluating insurance acquisition opportunities globally but has a particular interest in Europe, a senior company executive told S&P Global Market Intelligence. Kang Lan, board director and senior vice president at Fosun International and chairwoman of Fosun Insurance Group said Fosun's focus is on Europe, and would consider both life and property and casualty insurers.
1. Data Dispatch Asia-Pacific: Indian insurer PNB MetLife heads for IPO, but high costs worry analysts
PNB MetLife India Insurance Co. Ltd. is poised to carry out India's fourth life insurance IPO but it is much smaller than the previous three to go to market and its high operating costs remain a concern to analysts. PNB MetLife said its operating expense ratio, or costs as a share of gross written premium, was 20.6% in the year to March 31, the highest among the 10 biggest private-sector life insurers.
2. Data Dispatch Asia-Pacific: Among Chinese banks, rural lenders hit hardest by bad loans in Q2
Asset quality deteriorated at rural commercial banks in China in the second quarter amid tighter liquidity conditions and stricter classification of nonperforming loans. The NPL ratio for rural commercial banks rose to 4.29% as of June 30 from 2.81% a year earlier, according to China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission data.
3. Taiwan's life insurers boost investment-linked sales as interest rates stay low
Statistics from Taiwan's Life Insurance Association show that among 22 life insurers in Taiwan, first-year premium for investment-linked insurance products grew 66.1% year over year in the first half to June, compared with a 2.6% decline in traditional insurance products. The share of investment-linked policies in first-year premiums rose to 26.0% from 17.1% in the first half of 2017.
4. Data Dispatch Asia-Pacific: Trade tensions, cooling property market cloud outlook for Singaporean banks
Major Singaporean banks warned of slowing loan growth for the second half after reporting higher net profits for the second quarter on increases in interest and fee income. DBS Group Holdings Ltd. trimmed its full-year loan-growth forecast, after posting an 18% year-over-year rise in second-quarter net profit.
5. Data Dispatch Asia-Pacific: Australian insurers prune subpar branches, narrow focus in profit-raising drive
Some Australian insurers are cutting underperforming units to focus on core business and drive up profitability. Insurance Australia Group Ltd. sold operations in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam in June, while Suncorp Group Ltd. said it plans to divest its Australian life insurance business. QBE Insurance Group Ltd. has also been scaling back, including the sale of its Australian travel insurance business to Nib Holdings Ltd.