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Allianz, Axa said to bid for StanChart Asia insurance rights

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Allianz SE, Europe's biggest insurer, and France's Axa SA were among first-round bidders for the rights to distribute general insurance products through Standard Chartered Plc outlets in Asia, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

[SINGAPORE] Allianz SE, Europe's biggest insurer, and France's Axa SA were among first-round bidders for the rights to distribute general insurance products through Standard Chartered Plc outlets in Asia, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A unit of MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc, the US$18 billion Japanese group, also submitted an offer for exclusive access to the UK lender's regional banking network, the people said.

Standard Chartered is seeking about US$400 million in a deal it aims to complete by year-end, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the process is private. The so-called bancassurance agreement would grant distribution rights for 15 years, they said.

Banks in Asia have been negotiating similar partnerships as demand for insurance products rises among the region's increasingly wealthy population.

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CIMB Group Holdings Bhd agreed in June to distribute Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings Inc non-life products in South-east Asia, while Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd is buying 80 per cent of PT Paninvest's non-life unit in an agreement that also includes a distribution component.

Standard Chartered is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co to select partners for this agreement, people with knowledge of the matter said in June. The lender entered a new 15-year agreement with Prudential Plc in 2014 to distribute its life insurance products in Asia.

Representatives for Standard Chartered and Allianz declined to comment, while a spokesman for MS&AD subsidiary Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co said in an e-mailed statement the company can't comment on a specific deal.

A Hong Kong-based representative for Axa said in an e-mail the insurer won't comment on market speculation.

Germany's Allianz, which has a US$68 billion market value, reported worse-than-expected profit in the second quarter as net income almost halved to 1.1 billion euros (S$1.66 billion).

Axa, France's biggest insurer with a US$49 billion market value, said that first-half profit rose 4 per cent to 3.2 billion euros.

Allianz and Axa were among final bidders this year for deal to distribute general insurance products through CIMB's branches across Asia, people with knowledge of the matter said previously.

MS&AD, which writes both life and non-life policies, bought the UK's Amlin Plc in February for about £3.4 billion (S$5.9 billion).

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