Zurich Is Said to Join $2 Billion Wave of Malaysia Stake Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Zurich Insurance Group AG is working with advisers to cut its stake in its Malaysian life insurance unit, people with knowledge of the matter said, joining a wave of foreign players planning over $2 billion of such deals in the country.

The Swiss insurer is considering options including a possible stake sale or domestic initial public offering of the business, which would help it comply with a 70 percent limit on foreign ownership, according to the people. The sale of a 30 percent stake in Zurich’s Malaysian life unit could fetch about $100 million, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Overseas insurers including Prudential Plc and Chubb Ltd. have been working with banks to explore ways to pare stakes in their Malaysian units, after the government decided to start enforcing ownership caps more strictly, Bloomberg News reported last year. The country’s two biggest pension funds, which manage a combined $203 billion, are pursuing talks to buy stakes in some of those businesses, people with knowledge of the matter said in October.

A representative for Zurich declined to comment.

Zurich has separated its general and life insurance businesses in Malaysia under separate legal entities effective Jan. 1 to comply with local regulatory requirements, according to a press release on its website. Zurich Insurance Malaysia Bhd. was renamed Zurich Life Insurance Malaysia Bhd., while its general insurance operations were transferred to newly-incorporated Zurich General Insurance Malaysia Bhd.

Zurich Insurance Malaysia earned net premiums of 709.6 million ringgit ($182 million) in 2016, according to its latest available annual report.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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