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Nippon Life, MassMutual in deal talks; Indian insurer sets IPO price range

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.

M&A updates

* Nippon Life Insurance Co. is said to be in final negotiations with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., or MassMutual, for a majority stake in the latter's Japanese subsidiary. The Japanese insurer plans to purchase a majority stake in the unit for about ¥100 billion to ¥200 billion.

* MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. will acquire a 5% stake in a Jersey-based unit of Swiss Re AG for £175 million. The Japanese group is set to invest in ReAssure Jersey One Ltd. by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017-18, with plans to raise its stake to 15% by 2020 for £625 million.

* Suncorp Group Ltd. will reportedly send out documents regarding a sale of its life insurance operations to interested parties as early as the week of Oct. 2. Interested buyers will reportedly receive information regarding the potential sale by mid-October.

* India-based Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd. has reportedly put itself on the auction block, with a price tag of US$900 million to US$1 billion. The company hired Kotak Mahindra Bank and MAPE Advisory to advise it on the sale process.

* Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) are reportedly looking to buy minority stakes in foreign-owned insurers in the country. The report came as foreign insurers, including Singapore's Great Eastern Holdings Ltd., U.K.-based Prudential Plc and Tokyo-based Tokio Marine Holdings Inc., weigh options for part of their stakes in their Malaysian units to comply with ownership rules.

IPO developments

* General Insurance Corp. of India set the price for its proposed IPO at between 855 Indian rupees and 912 rupees per share. The state-owned insurer will offer a total of 124.7 million shares, or 14.2%, of the company's post-offer paid-up equity share capital. The issuance period will run from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13.

* Shares of SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd. closed their first day of trading on Oct. 3 on the Bombay Stock Exchange at 708 Indian rupees, up 1.14% over the issue price of 700 rupees. SBI Life Insurance is the latest Indian insurer to go public.

* AIA Group Ltd. does not have any plans to seek listing of its India-based joint venture, Tata AIA Life Insurance Co. Ltd., according to AIA Group CEO and President Ng Keng Hooi. The executive said the joint venture does not need to conduct an IPO to raise capital since it is financially strong.

* The Indian government may reportedly list only two out of the five state-owned general insurance companies on stock exchanges in fiscal 2017-18. General Insurance Corp. of India and New India Assurance Co. Ltd., both of which filed preliminary prospectuses in August, may get listed on bourses. The other three insurance companies are National Insurance Co. Ltd., Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. and United India Insurance Co. Ltd.

In other news

* S&P Global Ratings raised its outlook on Japan's Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. to positive from stable following an improvement in the insurer's capital level.

* Taiwan Life Insurance Co. Ltd. signed a service contract with Ping An Life Insurance Co. of China Ltd. to provide insurance claim services for their customers.

* Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. reportedly signed a contract with Saigon - Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank to sell its life insurance products in Vietnam.

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