Sat, May 12, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Taishin, Yuanta want New York Life: report

LIFE PLANS:Both companies declined to comment on the rumors, but a Yuanta official who asked not to be named said there was no bid, only a chat over coffee

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控) and Yuanta Financial Holding Co (元大金控) yesterday declined to comment on reports that they have submitted bids to buy the local unit of New York Life Co, but they did reiterate their plans to expand into the life insurance business.

The statements came after local media said the two financial services providers are bidding for New York Life Taiwan (紐約人壽), with bids between US$150 million and US$200 million. The winner is expected to be announced later this month.

Taishin Financial has been interested in owning a life insurance subsidiary and it will seize any opportunity to acquire one, chief financial officer Welch Lin (林維俊) has said previously.

He refused to comment on the media reports.

Taishin Financial, which is flush with cash and owns a strong banc-assurance team, is seeking to boost cross-selling benefits and overall earnings by buying a life insurer.

The firm lost its bid for MetLife Inc’s Taiwan unit to Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) in March last year.

Last month, New York Life Taiwan reportedly approached Taishin Financial chairman Thomas Wu (吳東亮) for exclusive acquisition talks that remain effective until the end of this month, according to the Chinese-language Economic Daily News.

The US insurer currently has more than 500 traditional and telemarketing sales agents and more than 300,000 policyholders in Taiwan, the company said.

New York Life Taiwan had NT$77.41 billion (US$2.63 billion) in assets as of the end of last year, with a net worth of NT$3.99 billion, company data showed.

New York Life Taiwan said yesterday it could not comment on any acquisition reports. That contrasted with a flat denial when the issue was broached last year.

The New York-based US parent company has sold its units in Hong Kong, Thailand and South Korea in the past two years, leaving Taiwan and Mexico as its only two overseas markets.

Yuanta Financial chairman Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章) said yesterday the conglomerate remains interested in expanding its scale of economy after integrating Polaris Securities Co (寶來證券).

“Yuanta Financial would like to increase the number of branches its bank has and expand into the life insurance business, but there is no timetable for that expansion,” Yen said by telephone.

The ideal number of branches for Yuanta Bank (元大銀行) is about 100, from the present 88, Yen said, keeping mum on reports the group is bidding against Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) for a stake in Kaohsiung-based Ta Chong Bank Ltd (大眾銀行) to strengthen its services in the south of the nation.

Another Yuanta Financial official dismissed the reports about New York Life Taiwan as inaccurate.

“Yuanta Financial has not bid for New York Life Taiwan. There was only a conversation over coffee about the idea,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

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