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Indian insurers' M&A deal collapses; Anbang says no plan to sell overseas assets

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Indian insurers' M&A deal collapses; Anbang says no plan to sell overseas assets

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week. Please note that some entries may have links to third-party sources that may require a subscription.

HDFC Standard Life turns to IPO as planned merger collapses

* HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd. terminated their planned merger after evaluating several alternate structures following Indian regulators' rejection of their three-step plan in June.

* HDFC Standard Life is now pushing for an IPO, through which parents Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd. and U.K.-based Standard Life Plc will sell a combined 15% stake in the joint venture.

* Investors could be receptive to a pure-play insurance IPO, said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, head of fundamental research at Hyderabad, India-based Karvy Stock Broking. "I believe the IPO should get a robust response [from investors], considering what we have learned from the listing of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd.," India's biggest IPO since 2010, Thunuguntla said.

Other M&A updates

* Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. said it does not plan to sell its overseas assets following a Bloomberg News report that Chinese authorities asked the group to sell its overseas assets. Following the report, China's insurance regulator said that it does not plan to ask Anbang to sell its overseas assets.

* Japan Post Insurance Co. Ltd. is looking to acquire both overseas and locally as it sees limited opportunities to pursue organic growth in Japan.

Earnings, share buybacks

* Suncorp Group Ltd.'s full-year net profit rose year over year, thanks to higher profit from its Australian insurance business.

* Sony Financial Holdings Inc.'s preliminary net profit for the fiscal first quarter ended June 30 dropped year over year amid lower profit from its life insurance business.

* Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co. Ltd. posted a year-over-year increase in net profit for the second quarter as its underwriting loss narrowed. The insurer will also consider a share buyback program by the end of the third quarter even as it plans to keep a dividend payout ratio of more than 30%.

* Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Ltd. declared a lower interim dividend and said it intends to begin an on-market share buyback program.

In other news

* The China Insurance Regulatory Commission said it will tighten scrutiny on asset-liability management among insurers, including publishing further rules and setting up a regulatory mechanism by year-end.

* India's insurance regulator ordered ICICI Prudential Life Insurance to take over the assets and policyholder liabilities of troubled insurer Sahara India Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

* Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission censured China Life Insurance (Overseas) Co. Ltd. for breaching the city's code on takeovers and mergers.

* QBE Insurance Group Ltd. unit QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd. agreed to refund up to A$15.9 million to over 35,000 of its customers after Australia's markets regulator found the company sold add-on insurance products with little or no value to them.

* AIA Group Ltd. expects strong business growth in its China operations to continue, while growth in Hong Kong will slow to more "normal" levels in the rest of the year compared to the first half.

* AXA is eyeing Asia for future growth as its local joint ventures bear fruit and the group aims to expand its footprint throughout the region, the insurer's CEO said.