Korean insurers seeking foreign expansion as home market saturates

Both life and nonlife firms are tapping into the Southeast Asian region

Korean insurers seeking foreign expansion as home market saturates

Insurance News

By Kenneth Araullo

Korean insurance firms are looking to expand into overseas markets to bolster their growth as the domestic sector stalls due to saturation, according to several insiders.

Companies making foreign bids include both life and nonlife firms, with many looking towards South Korea’s neighbours in Southeast Asia as the region is currently amidst major economic development and with a large young population that could present a wide customer base.

According to a report from The Korea Times, it is DB Insurance from the nonlife sector that has since aggressively pursued an overseas campaign, with the insurer securing controlling stakes in three Vietnamese firms starting from 2015. Its most recent acquisition, a 75% stake in Saigon-Hanoi Insurance (BSH), was finalized this June.

Another major player, KB Insurance, sets its sights on Indonesia to create more synergy with the other divisions of its parent, KB Financial Group. KB Life Insurance, another affiliate, recently launched a global business unit to address its overseas market appetite.

Two major life insurers – Samsung Life and Hanwha Life – are also upping their efforts to grow their respective overseas markets. Samsung Life is currently banking on the recent profits made by its division in Thailand, a venture that it started in 1997. Hanwha Life, on the other hand, is looking at Indonesia as it acquired a majority stake in Lippo General Insurance, an affiliate of the country’s sixth largest conglomerate.

To support these foreign ambitions, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) of Korea recently laid out its plans for regulations that make it possible for domestic insurers to make further investments in foreign financial companies, with firms being able to own foreign banks.

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