The Star Online, Photo Credit to The Star Online
clock 04-08-2017
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KWAP to Consider Investing in Malaysia's Foreign-Owned Insurers

Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan), Malaysia's second-largest pension fund, is considering investing in foreign-owned insurers based here, Bloomberg reports.

KWAP CEO Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad spoke to the newswire in a phone interview, saying KWAP is asking for pitches following inquiries from banks about possibly buying stakes in overseas insurers' Malaysian units.

This comes following news reports that overseas insurers are planning to reduce their stakes in their Malaysian businesses in order to comply with foreign ownership limits.

Bank Negara Malaysia has taken a tougher stance on foreign ownership of insurers to increase local participation in the industry. While foreign ownership of Malaysian insurers was set at 70% in 2009, some foreign insurers operating in the country were allowed to be fully owned by the foreign parent under the proviso that they were able to "facilitate consolidation and rationalisation of the insurance industry”.

However, earlier this year, the central bank enforced the 70% foreign ownership ceiling and requested that the overseas insurers increase local shareholder participation to at least 30%. The overseas firms have until June 2018 to comply with the ruling.

Reuters reported in June that the central bank sent letters to wholly foreign-owned insurance firms, which included the Malaysian units of Japan's Tokio Marine Holdings Inc and Hong Kong's AIA Group Ltd, requesting that their parents adhere to the foreign ownership ceiling.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg cites a source as saying that a 30% stake sale in Prudential Malaysia Assurance could raise about RM3 billion while a similar sale in Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) would collect about RM5 billion. The same source says a 30% stake sale in Tokio Marine Holdings' local unit could raise about RM1 billion.

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