Thai Life explores $500 mn stake sale amid M&

Thai life

A Hong Kong-based Barclays spokesman declined comment. Thai Life had 15.3 percent of the country's life insurance market with annualised premium equivalent of 6.2 billion baht ($202 million) as of the end of the second quarter, according to Thai Life Assurance Association data. It trails industry leader AIA Group Ltd which had 20.4 percent, while third-ranked Muang Thai Life Assurance Co Ltd is close behind with 15.1 percent.

UNDERINSURED

Foreign insurers, particularly heavyweights like AIA and Prudential, are attracted by Southeast Asia, which accounts for less than 0.25 percent of the world's insurance market, according to research by Norton Rose.

Thailand is among the most underinsured nations in Southeast Asia, with only 25 percent of the country's population of 65 million currently owning life insurance. It has an insurance sales to gross domestic product ratio of 2.7 percent, compared with 3.3 percent for Malaysia and 4.3 percent for Singapore, according to Fitch Ratings.

But it is also seen as one of the fastest growing life insurance markets in the region.

Fitch estimates Thailand's life insurance industry grew 17.5 percent in the first seven months of 2012 to around $6.9 billion, and adds that the sector is supported by steady premium growth, robust capitalisation with zero leverage and a conservative investment mix. Swiss Re forecasts life insurance premiums in Thailand to

grow 6 percent in 2013, compared with 4.5 percent growth forecast for the whole of Asia.

Unlisted Thai Life Insurance was established in 1942 when a group of Thai citizens and high-rankng officials came together to support the industry after foreign insurers deserted the country due to the Second World War, according to the company website.

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