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Fri, Feb 27, 2009 - Page 10 News List

China Life talking to AIG about its Asia assets: CIRC

AGENCIES , WASHINGTON

China Life Insurance Co (中國人壽) is in talks with American International Group (AIG) Inc over buying the US insurer’s Asian unit, the insurance regulator said.

China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) Vice Chairman Li Kemu (李克穆) said AIG visited China looking for interest in the Asian subsidiary, American International Assurance Co (友邦保險) (AIA). China Life is in talks over a possible bid for the company, he said.

“This is still under discussion,” he said after a briefing in Beijing yesterday. “We feel AIA is a very good company. At least, its China and Hong Kong operations are not bad.”

AIG, the New York-based insurer forced to sell businesses to repay a US$85 billion government loan, said on Oct. 3 that it would seek buyers for its life insurance and retirement operations in the US, Europe, Latin America and Japan. Chinese regulators are prompting insurers to increase investments to help boost the nation’s economy after six straight quarters of slowing growth.

China Life spokesman Cao Qingyang (曹青楊) was not available to comment when reached on his cellphone. Bonnie Wu, a spokeswoman for AIA in Hong Kong, declined to comment.

AIG has said it plans to sell all assets except its US property and casualty business, foreign general insurance, and an ownership interest in some foreign life operations, as it looks to raise money to pay back the government.

Three potential bidders are still looking at buying a large stake in AIG’s key Asian life insurance unit, said people close to the matter on Wednesday.

Canadian insurer Manulife and Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings are considering offers for the unit, the sources said, although no formal bids have been submitted.

UK insurer Prudential Plc is mulling whether to bid, a source said.

AIG was first rescued by the US government last September after bad mortgage bets left it on the verge of collapse. So far the US government has provided US$150 billion in federal aid.

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