In Focus
RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Thailand

Charoen makes a play for Asian bancassurance market

Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi moves to take over ING's insurance units in Asia.

One of Charoen’s companies, Southeast Insurance and Finance Group Company, is making a play for the ING units recently acquired by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li.

Insiders say Southeast Insurance Chairman Chotiphat Bijananda prefers acquiring the insurance unit or forming a joint venture with Pacific Century Group for the insurance business in Thailand instead of buying ING insurance units in Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand.

Chotiphat said the proposed deal will allow his company to gain access to Thailand's fast-growing bancassurance market since ING Life has five years remaining in contracts to exclusively sell its products through branches of TMB Bank, a medium-sized Thai bank.

"We don't have any alliance for the bancassurance business, so the aim of our proposed acquisition deal is to expand into this market," he said.

Bancassurance channels accounted for 50% of first-year life insurance premiums in 2011, up from 28% in 2007, according to the Thai Life Insurance Association.

Bancassurance is a partnership between a bank and an insurance company whereby the insurance company uses the bank’s sales channel to sell insurance products.


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