Malaysia's CIMB nears bancassurance deal with Sompo Japan

[TOKYO] Malaysian lender CIMB Group Holdings Bhd is close to signing an agreement with insurer Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings Inc to distribute general insurance products in Southeast Asia, in a deal worth around US$200 million, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

CIMB, Malaysia's second-largest lender by assets, had been seeking proposals from insurers to distribute their general insurance products in four Southeast Asian markets, Reuters reported in September.

CIMB and Sompo Japan declined to comment. The source declined to be identified because discussions over the deal are not public.

Bloomberg reported the talks earlier.

The so-called bancassurance model is lucrative for banks because global insurers are willing to pay hefty fees for access to lenders' branch networks and exposure to emerging markets'growing middle classes to sell life, property, motor and fire insurance.

CIMB has about 1,000 branches serving about 13 million customers in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, with its home market and Indonesia making up the majority.

Asia has seen three large bank distribution deals for life insurance in the past three years, and all three saw aggressive bidding by insurers who are betting on strong growth in insurance premiums.


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