Thu, Oct 18, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan Life wins property bid

BAROQUE STRUCTURE The life insurance firm said that unlike other bidders, it was interested in retaining the Kuo Hua Life building and will use it as its headquarters


The headquarters of Kuo Hua Life Insurance Co on Zhongshan N Road is pictured yesterday.


Taiwan Life Insurance Co (台灣人壽) yesterday won the bid for Kuo Hua Life Insurance Co's (國華人壽) headquarters with an offer of NT$5.37 billion (US$164.7 million), saying it will use the building as its new headquarters.

Taiwan Life has been looking for a new office as its headquarters on Xuchang Street (許昌街) in Taipei can no longer accommodate its rapidly expanding business, the company said in a statement.

Shares of Taiwan Life slid NT$1.1, or 1.8 percent, to close at NT$60 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday. The bidding results were announced after the stock market closed.

Built in 1988, the 13-story Kuo Hua building on Zhongshan N Road, Section 2, has a total floor space of 22,000m2.

Unlike other bidders which planned to construct a new building on the site, Taiwan Life will keep the Baroque building intact, the statement said.

With its good location and potential value increase, the Kuo Hua building attracted the attention of 36 companies, including local and overseas insurers, property developers, private equity funds and hoteliers, said real estate consultancy firm DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, which held the bidding.

Companies that joined the bidding included Taiwan Life, Farglory Group (遠雄企業集團) and Shin Kong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽), it said.

The commercial real estate market in Taiwan, with an estimated value of NT$100 billion, will continue to boom in the next two to three years, DTZ Debenham Tie Leung said in a separate release.

Properties on Zhongshan N Road, in particular, have become a magnet to property developers.

Farglory bought the Fortuna Hotel (富都飯店) in March and plans to construct luxury apartments on the site.

Separately, Taiwan Life said that the indictment of its chairman, Chu Ping-yu (朱炳昱), on Tuesday on allegations of insider trading would not affect company operations.

The Taichung District Prosecutors' Office alleged that Chu pocketed NT$16 million from illegal trading of more than 8 million shares of Glotech Inc (德宏工業).

The company said the share purchase was made based on professional evaluation, adding that it would further comment on the issue after receiving the statement of charges.

Taiwan Life posted NT$5.22 billion in sales last month, up 3.4 percent from a year earlier. For the first nine months of the year, revenues grew 37.5 percent year-on-year to NT$53.4 billion, the company reported last week.

In related news, the Financial Supervisory Commission said yesterday it had approved China Life Insurance Co's (中國人壽) plan to acquire Swiss insurer Winterthur Life's Taiwan branch for NT$400 million.

China Life, the nation's ninth-largest life insurer by premium income, announced the acquisition in July to sharpen its competitiveness and boost profitability.

With the acquisition, the number of foreign life insurers in the country was reduced to eight, the commission said in a statement.

Taiwan has a total of 30 local and foreign life insurers, it said.

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