Two dozen buyers scrambling for AXA’s Hong Kong wealth management unit

Winning bidder will gain a valuable shortcut to enter prime Asian insurance market

Two dozen buyers scrambling for AXA’s Hong Kong wealth management unit

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Around two dozen bidders, mostly from mainland China, are reportedly vying to acquire the Hong Kong wealth management business of global insurance giant AXA SA.

The French-based insurance group is looking to sell the wealth management unit in order to focus on its other businesses in Asia, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

AXA Wealth Management HK, which provides savings and investment-linked insurance products, is likely to fetch a price of US$500 million, the sources said. In return, the successful buyer will gain entry into the rich insurance sector of Hong Kong without having to apply for a licence, which usually takes a long time to be approved by regulators.

The sources, who refused to be named due to lack of authority to speak publicly on the subject, added that the suitors lining up for the firm include several insurers, mainland Chinese state-owned companies, private investment groups, and property developers.

Two of the names floated as having interest in the deal were China Taiping Insurance Holdings and Country Garden Holdings.

AXA and China Taiping refused to give a comment when approached by Reuters, while Country Garden did not respond to the request.

The Hong Kong insurance sector has seen numerous M&A deals in the past few years as investors seek to take advantage of the rapid growth brought about by an influx of mainland Chinese nationals buying insurance products in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong also has Asia’s second-highest ratio of life and health insurance to GDP at 13.4% in 2015, according to data from Swiss Re.

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