October 5, 2016 / 10:36 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Shenzhen Qianhai agrees to buy ACR for about $1 billion

(Adds details)

By Julie Zhu

HONG KONG, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Shenzhen Qianhai Financial Holdings (QFH) and Shenzhen Investment Holdings Corp (SIHC) have agreed to buy ACR Capital Holdings Pte Ltd, the owner of Singapore’s biggest reinsurance firm, ACR said in a statement on Wednesday.

The two Shenzhen government-owned investment companies were among a number of suitors, including Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, bidding for ACR Capital, the holding company of Asia Capital Reinsurance Group. The group has operations in China, Japan and the Middle East.

Reuters previously reported that the ACR deal was valued at about $1 billion.

The deal is the latest in a string by deep-pocketed Chinese investors hunting for foreign insurance companies outside their home market.

Mainland Chinese companies have splurged about $7 billion on 11 outbound acquisitions of insurance companies since the beginning of last year, data compiled by Reuters showed.

QFH chairman Li Qiang said the company aims to “make Qianhai (in Shenzhen) the national centre for reinsurance” through the acquisition.

“We look forward to utilising ACR’s leading pan-Asian platform and professional underwriting capacity to promote other domestic and overseas reinsurance business,” he said in the statement.

Asia and Australia account for less than 20 percent of global reinsurance premiums, below what the region’s population and economic growth would warrant, Fitch Ratings said in a report last year, citing industry estimates.

ACR’s owners include London-based private equity firm 3i Group, Malaysian state investor Khazanah Nasional, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings and Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp.

3i Group will earn about 182 million pounds ($231.6 million) from the sale of its stake in ACR, it said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals, including from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, is expected to complete by early next year.

ACR was set up in 2006 with capital of around $620 million and is ranked among the world’s top 50 reinsurers.

Morgan Stanley is the financial adviser to ACR, while Aon Securities Inc is advising QFH. ($1 = 0.7859 pounds) (Reporting by Julie Zhu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Amrutha Gayathri)

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