Great Eastern confirms it is in talks to buy Malaysian insurer AmMetLife

Great Eastern Holdings has confirmed it is in talks to acquire Malaysian insurer AmMetLife, following Bloomberg’s July 31 story about the ongoing discussions.

In an Aug 1 bourse filing, Great Eastern says discussions for the acquisition are “currently ongoing” but the process is “at a preliminary stage”. “There is no certainty that any definitive or binding agreement will be entered into pursuant to these discussions.”

Great Eastern says it will comply with applicable rules to make the relevant disclosures at the appropriate time.

Bloomberg had reported that the subsidiary of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) is conducting due diligence on AmMetLife Insurance Bhd. and seeking regulatory approval to clinch the deal, citing people familiar with the matter. A transaction could value AmMetLife, which the US company jointly owns with Kuala Lumpur-listed AMMB Holdings Bhd, at US$250 million ($332.4 million) to US$300 million.

An agreement could be reached within the next few months, according to Bloomberg’s sources, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Talks are ongoing and could still fall apart or face delays, they added.

A deal would see Great Eastern prevail in its pursuit of AmMetLife Insurance. The Singaporean firm was interested in acquiring the unit last year, even as Zurich Insurance Group AG had emerged as the frontrunner to buy a majority stake, Bloomberg reported at the time.

MetLife and AMMB teamed up to form their Malaysian insurance partnership AmMetLife in 2014. The parties started exploring a potential divestment of the business in 2020, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

AmMetLife offers life insurance and wealth protection services through nearly 200 AmBank and AmMetLife branches in the country. It reported about 307 million ringgit ($90.5 million) of gross earned premiums for the six months ended Sept 30, 16.7% higher y-o-y.

Founded in 1908, Great Eastern has more than $100 billion in assets and over 14.5 million policyholders. It has life, general and group insurance operations as well as an asset management arm called Lion Global Investors Ltd. Great Eastern operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia and has a presence in China as well as an office in Myanmar.

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