FWD is said poised to renew Thai bank pact as M&A talks fizzle


Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li’s FWD Group is poised to renew a distribution deal with Thailand’s TMB Bank Pcl, after talks to acquire the life insurance operations of another lender in the country fell apart, people familiar with the matter said.

A 15-year agreement to sell FWD life insurance products through TMB’s branch network could be announced as soon as this week, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The accord with TMB Bank, which is part- owned by ING Groep NV, could fetch at least USD500 million, people with knowledge of the matter said in May.

FWD had separately been negotiating with Siam Commercial Bank Pcl to acquire a stake in the lender’s life insurance operations in what could have been the biggest-ever acquisition of a Southeast Asian insurer, the people said this week. Those talks fell apart because of differences over valuation, according to the people.

TMB Bank appointed Bank of America Corp. earlier this year to help negotiate the so-called banc assurance agreement. International insurers have recently been seeking ways to expand their reach in Asia by selling products through lenders’ branch networks. A new deal with TMB Bank would follow a 15-year agreement that Allianz SE announced in January to distribute products through Standard Chartered Plc’s Asian outlets.

A spokesman for FWD declined to comment. Boontuck Wungcharoen, TMB Bank’s chief executive officer, didn’t immediately answer phone calls and a mobile phone text message seeking comment. Arthid Nanthawithaya, CEO of Siam Commercial, said the lender has been in talks with potential partners for its life insurance business but declined to comment on talks with specific parties.

FWD was created through the 2013 purchase of ING’s Thai, Macau and Hong Kong life insurance operations by Li’s Pacific Century Group, which then rebranded the business. Jonathan Browning, Joyce Koh and Elffie Chew, Bloomberg

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