US insurance giant, American International Group (AIG), was expected to call a board meeting late last night Taipei time to announce the winning bidder for its Taiwanese life insurance unit, Nan Shan Life Insurance Co (南山人壽), Chinese-language media said yesterday.
AIG reportedly favors a consortium of Ruenchen Investment Holding Co (潤成投資控股), a local consortium led by Ruentex Group (潤泰集團) and shoemaker Pou Chen Corp (寶成工業), according to the report by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).
The consortium has reportedly offered US$3 billion to acquire AIG’s 97.57 percent Nan Shan stake, more than the US$2.15 billion by the previous bid winner, a consortium of China Strategic Holdings Ltd (中策集團) and Primus Financial Holdings Ltd (博智金融), the report said.
The Financial Supervisory Commission rejected AIG’s first share transfer application at the end of August amid concern over the Hong Kong buyer’s long-term commitment and capital increase capabilities.
The commission denied knowledge of AIG’s share transfer decision, but confirmed AIG representatives paid a visit yesterday morning, the third this month.
“I can’t name the visitors or commission officials who received them,” Lin Tung-liang (林棟樑), commission secretary-general, told an evening press conference. “There is little the commission can share except to repeat it will stick to the five principles when reviewing the revived share transfer.”
The new buyer must also promise to safeguard the interests of Nan Shan’s 4 million policyholders and almost 40,000 employees, the commission has said.
The new owner would also have to demonstrate professional competence in running an insurance firm and abide by Taiwan’s rules regarding funding sources.
Ruentex Group declined to comment on reports that it was the most likely winner.
“We’ll hold a press conference and make a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange if we really win,” the company’s spokesman said by telephone.
The nation’s top three financial firms, Cathay Financial Holdings Co (國泰金控), Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) and Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) are also interested in Nan Shan. Chinatrust Financial, which reportedly offered the second-highest bid at US$2 billion, refused to comment, saying only AIG held the answer.