Nippon Life president says actively exploring M&A in
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[January 21, 2019]
By Taiga Uranaka
TOKYO (Reuters) - Nippon Life Insurance Co
is actively seeking mergers and acquisitions overseas, with a focus on
the United States and Asia's emerging economies, the president of
Japan's largest life insurer said on Monday.
Japanese insurers have been among the most aggressive in overseas
acquisitions. Yet, unlike smaller rivals, Nippon Life has not made a
deal in the United States, except for a minority stake in asset
management company TCW Group in 2017.
"The United States is the world's largest life insurance market. We are
looking for ways to expand our business there," President Hiroshi
Shimizu told Reuters in an interview.
"We would also like to explore various possibilities in Asia's emerging
countries," he said, but did not provide details.
While life insurers say there is still room for growth in Japan as its
ageing demographics is likely to create demand for new insurance
products in nursing and medical care, they are under increasing pressure
to look overseas as their home market is faced with a shrinking
Nippon Life is a mutual company owned by its insurance policy holders.
It has made a string of acquisitions in recent years and had total
assets of about 78 trillion yen ($711.6 billion) as of the end of
September last year.
Last year, Nippon Life bought an 85.1 percent stake in the Japanese unit
of U.S.-based MassMutual Financial Group for about 100 billion yen, with
the aim of tapping MassMutual's wealthy clientele. In 2016, it made a
$2.5 billion purchase of smaller domestic rival Mitsui Life Insurance Co
to bolster sales through bank branch networks.
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Nippon Life Insurance's upcoming president Hiroshi Shimizu speaks at
a news conference in Tokyo, Japan January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim
With these acquisitions and a new company being readied for third-party
insurance agents sales channel, Shimizu said Nippon Life has acquired units
necessary for the domestic life insurance business for the time being.
The company is now shifting greater emphasis to building up overseas businesses.
Nippon Life bought an 80 percent stake in MLC Ltd, operator of Australia's
fourth-largest life insurer, from National Australia Bank Ltd <NAB.AX> for A$2.4
billion in 2016.
But Nippon Life is the only one among Japan's top four private-sector life
insurance companies that has not made a major acquisition in the United States.
Rival Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc <8750.T> bought U.S. insurer Protective Life
Corp for about $5.6 billion in 2015, followed by Sumitomo Life's $3.7 billion
acquisition of Symetra Financial Corp and Meiji Yasuda Life's $5 billion buy of
StanCorp Financial Group in 2016.
"We cannot expand life insurance and asset management by ourselves alone
overseas, we need to find partners that we can have long-term trust relationship
with," Shimizu said.
(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka and Taro Fuse; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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