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FWD to pull out of employee benefits business in Singapore

FWD Group, the insurance arm of Hong Kong's investment conglomerate Pacific Century Group, will wind down its employee benefits business in Singapore by December 2020, a company spokesman told The Business Times (BT).

This means that FWD Singapore will no longer pitch for new contracts for that business and will also not renew existing contracts once they expire, the spokesman added.

The move will impact over 80,000 members across various companies covered by its employee benefits business, according to FWD's website.

The spokesman also told BT that affected clients were informed last month on the shuttering of the business.

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"FWD Singapore has made a business decision to focus on and allocate more investment and resources to other lines of business that support stronger future growth in the market, including our fully direct and online life and general insurance business," the spokesman said on Wednesday in response to BT's queries.

FWD is believed to be in discussions with affected staff about what the next steps are. On Wednesday, the insurer declined to provide a number on those affected, saying that it is "inappropriate" to comment further at this point in time.

FWD is controlled by Richard Li, the entrepreneur and son of Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing.

It is believed to be the fifth-largest group medical insurer in Singapore. The insurer had started off here in April 2016 providing employee benefits insurance to corporate customers.

FWD will still maintain its direct-to-consumer business, which offers a suite of life and general insurance products including direct-term life, car, travel, personal accident and maid insurance.

Outside of Singapore, FWD Group spans Hong Kong & Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan, offering life and medical insurance, general insurance and employee benefits across a number of its markets.