HSBC, Maybank’s insurance venture among bidders for AXA SA’s Singapore biz

HSBC Holdings Plc and Malayan Banking Bhd.’s insurance venture are among shortlisted bidders for Axa SA’s business in Singapore, which could raise about $700 million in a sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

The British bank and Etiqa, majority owned by a Maybank joint venture, have proceeded into the next round with a few weeks to go before a deadline for submitting binding bids, the people said. At least one Chinese firm also among those invited to lodge offers, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Axa has been considering a sale of its Singapore business as it seeks to raise funds divesting peripheral operations, Bloomberg News reported last August. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl is trying to shift Axa’s focus on property and casualty insurance following its $15.3 billion purchase of XL Group Ltd. in 2018. Since then, the CEO has been reviewing options for smaller businesses across the world, including in the Middle East, to help pay for the XL deal.

The Singapore unit, which offers life and property and casualty insurance, generated 615 million euros ($745 million) of revenue in 2019, according to Axa’s annual report. It also provides services in savings and investments, its website shows.

HSBC plans to accelerate its expansion across Asia in its imminent strategy refresh, Chairman Mark Tucker told the virtual Asian Financial Forum this week. The lender had said last year that it would speed up investments in the region, where it draws the bulk of its profit but was grappling with risks from Hong Kong politics and the coronavirus outbreak.

Etiqa began in 2005 when Maybank Ageas, a joint venture between Maybank and Ageas SA, merged with Malaysia’s National Insurance Bhd. The firm provides general and life insurance, according to its website. It also operates in Singapore.

Deliberations are ongoing and bidders could still decide to withdraw from the process, the people said. A representative for Axa didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, while a representative for HSBC declined to comment. Chris Eng, chief strategy officer for Etiqa, said the company continuously looks for opportunities and value across Southeast Asia, declining to provide further comment.

Bloomberg

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.