Fri, May 25, 2012 - Page 12 News List

FSC rejects AXA’s effort to re-enter insurance market

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday rejected plans by AXA Group, the world’s leading insurance firm and brand, to re-establish a branch in Taiwan on concerns over its long-term commitment.

“The documents filed by the France-based insurance company fail to demonstrate its long-term commitment to the local market,” the commission said.

Frequent pullouts by players are unfavorable to the industry’s stable development and AXA Group has already exited Taiwan twice in the past, the commission said.

The French company, which has 214,000 employees serving 95 million clients worldwide, applied to make its third entry attempt in January and was asked last month to submit more documents to shore up its application.

The preparatory office is located in Taipei City’s Xinyi District (信義) with a staff of 30, AXA said in February, adding it aimed to hire 300 local employees and 5,000 distributors within five years.

“Taiwan is one of the largest insurance markets in the world … Any company hoping to take the lead in the global insurance arena and in the rising Asian market would need to include Taiwan on its road map,” AXA Asia CEO Mike Bishop said in a statement then.

AXA Taiwan hoped to focus on protection-type insurance policies along with innovative products targeting underserved segments besides saving policies, the preparatory office said.

Meanwhile Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控), Taiwan’s largest financial services provider by assets, said yesterday none of its subsidiaries have exposure to government bonds of debt-ridden Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, the so-called PIIGS group of countries.

The statement came after the FSC said on Tuesday that domestic life insurers had increased holdings in government bonds issued by these five European nations.

European bonds account for 30 percent of Cathay Life Insurance Co’s (國泰人壽) overseas financial assets, with most issued by German, French and British firms.

Cathay Life does own corporate bonds issued by Italian and Spanish financial institutions and national enterprises with high credit ratings, the statement said.

Later yesterday, Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange that its life insurance unit has not bought new government bonds from the PIIGS group in the past two years.

Corporate bonds issued by German, British and French financial institutions account for the bulk of Fubon Life Insurance Co’s (富邦人壽) foreign investment portfolio, the filing said, adding that those assets generate a stable fixed income.

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