Thai Life Insurance Pcl has requested pitches from banks for an initial public offering that could raise as much as $700 million on the stock exchange of Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Thailand’s third-largest life insurer by assets met last month with potential advisers on the proposed share sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. While the company is targeting a listing before the end of this year, it hasn’t picked any advisers as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus could lead to potential delays, the people said. Weak market sentiment and a gloomier economic outlook could also weigh on the plan, they said.
Deliberations are at an early stage and details of the share sale, including its timeline and size, could still change, the people said. A representative for Thai Life didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Thailand’s benchmark SET Index has tumbled more than 35% this year and touched its lowest level since 2011 on mounting concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The Southeast Asian nation stepped up efforts on Tuesday to stem the stock market rout, while its central bank intervened in both bond and foreign exchange markets last week to boost liquidity amid the volatility.
Thailand has confirmed 212 coronavirus infections and one death as of Wednesday.
Thai Life was founded in 1942 as the first Thai-operated life insurance company, after foreign firms left the country during the Second World War, according to the company’s website. The Chaiyawan family, which controls the insurer, sold a 15% stake to Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co., Japan’s third-biggest life insurer, in 2013.
The company had about 417 billion baht ($12.8 billion) worth of assets at the end of 2018, an increase of around 9% from 2017, according to its latest available annual statement. Thai Life, which had about 86 billion baht worth of total premiums in 2018, is the third-biggest life insurer in the country by assets after the Thai unit of Hong Kong-based AIA Group Ltd. and Muang Thai Life Assurance Pcl.
A listing could come in a busy year for the equity capital market in Thailand. Department store operator Central Retail Corp. raised $2.5 billion in February in what was the country’s largest IPO on record, even as the coronavirus began to rattle markets.