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EC News Asia Edition (2nd August 2017)

  • Publish Date: Posted over 6 years ago
  • Author:by Alan Jarque

Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Great American Insurance Company, Allianz Worldwide Care, Lloyd's and more.

Great American Insurance Company – Singapore branch announces key hires

Great American Insurance Group has announced three key hires for the Singapore branch of its flagship insurer, Great American Insurance Company.  

Mr Larry Kwok will take on the role as appointed director, marine, where he will be responsible for strategic management underwriting and portfolio management in the North Asia market, as well as assisting in leading the business towards its growth objectives in Asia. Mr Kwok brings with him 18 years’ experience in the insurance industry where he has held numerous senior underwriting and management roles, specialising in marine insurance classes. Mr. Kwok holds a Bachelor degree in business transport and logistics management from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Manchester Metropolitan University and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Maritime and Transportation Law stream at City University of Hong Kong. He is a senior associate member of The Australia and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF).

Ms. Linda Tan will serve as appointed director, marine, responsible for strategic management of marine underwriting and portfolio management within Asia. Ms Tan will also assist in leading the business towards its growth objectives in Asia. Ms Tan’ brings with her over 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry, with practical expertise, servicing, broking and marketing of marine and non-marine insurance products, along with regional account management for facultative and treaty business. Ms. Tan is an associate member of the Australian Insurance Institute.

Mr Donovan Lam will take on the role as appointed Senior Manager, marine and casualty claims, responsible for overseeing the claims management of all marine and casualty classes of business to drive best practises and deliver superior claims service to clients. Mr Lam has extensive experience in marine claims spanning over 27 years. Mr. Lam holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree in Geography and is also an Associate member of the Chartered Insurance Institute of London.

Great American Insurance Company, Singapore Branch offers an extensive list of insurance solutions to a wide variety of commercial customers. Dedicated to delivering exceptional service to its customers; its experienced team of underwriters will help to tailor a policy for their needs. The Singapore Branch of Great American Insurance Company has a keen focus on service standards, with an emphasis on claims services and helping clients win and manage difficult accounts, along with the ability to maximize local market opportunities through a flexible, efficient and scalable business model.

Allianz Wordwide Care appoints sales heads across regions

Allianz Worldwide Care has appointed five new 'heads of sales' to cover different regions including Asia and Africa. Allianz Worldwide Care specialises in providing international health and life insurance to organisations and private individuals living or working abroad.

Gordon Delaney is appointed to head of sales for northern, eastern and central Europe, responsible for these regions from his London base. Delaney has worked at Allianz Worldwide Care for over 13 years, previously taking on roles of sales manager in the UAE and senior sales in Western Europe.

Michael Baltes is appointed as head of sales for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, responsible for the sales and distribution within these regions. Michael joined Allianz Worldwide care 10 years ago and previously held the role of senior sales manager, based in Munich.

Cheryl Beattie, head of sales and distribution for the Middle East will now have her role expanded to cover Africa, based in Dubai. Beattie has 15 years senior sales experience, previously working for Bupa and GE Capital.

Tobias Meckert is appointed as head of sales for Asia Pacific, based in Singapore. Meckert is responsible for driving sales across the Asia Pacific region. Bringing with him a wealth of expertise, Tobias has held number roles across Allianz Group in Germany, Russia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, and Qatar.

Sandra Asin is appointed to regional head for Latin America, where she is responsible for establishing Allianz Worlwide Care’s latin America hub and driving business development activities across the region. Bringing with her 18 years of experience, Asin has previously worked for International Health Insurance Danmark a/s (IHI), Bupa , Global Benefits Group, and Best Doctors Insurance.

Andrew Searle, head of global business development at Allianz Worldwide Care, looks after the new appointments. Andrew is based in Dublin and has over 20 years’ experience. Within his position, Andrew is responsible for managing the regional sales teams and for developing the company’s global value proposition for the large and mid-sized corporate sector.

Singapore economy grows 2.5% on back of robust manufacturing

Singapore's gross domestic product grew 2.5 percent year on year in the past quarter ending in June, it was revealed by The Ministry of Trade and Industry advanced estimates.

Much the same as the previous quarter, the GDP increase was led by the manufacturing sector, expanding by 8% in the second quarter of the year, extending its previous 8.5 percent growth.

This growth in manufacturing was supported mainly by the electronics and precision engineering clusters, which have seen strong expansions on the back of robust external demand for semiconductors.

According to HSBC economist Joseph Incalcaterra, Singapore remains bullish in this sector given the assumption of a strong rebound in industrial production.

"Within the advance GDP estimate, the ministry assumes a strong rebound in June IP of approximately 7.0 percent month-on-month seasonally-adjusted, according to our calculations, which brings us to Q2 growth of 8.0 percent," he said.

He added, "This is not impossible to achieve, particularly given the fact that semiconductor production is expected to remain strong as Asia's iPhone supply chain ramps up."

Maybank Kim Eng analysts Chua Hak Bin and Lee Ju Ye said the construction sector continues to be the weakest link, contracting 5.6 percent following the previous quarter's 6.1 percent decline.

"The government may have added to the pain with another foreign worker levy hike in July for construction. Recent strong private sector property sales may help the construction sector closer to year-end," the two analysts said in a flash report.

On the other hand, the services producing industries recorded a 1.7 percent growth in the quarter, moving at a faster pace than the preceding quarter's 1.4 percent. The sector received a strong boost from the transportation & storage and business services sectors.

The Maybank Kim Eng analysts said services will also be supported by the finance & insurance and wholesale & trade sectors, given the rise in loans in the months of April and May.

Incalcaterra noted that Singapore continues to have a "two-speed economy", after months of endless upside data surprises.

"As such, we see little risk that growth exceeds the government's 2-3 percent forecast range," he said.

Global cyber attack could spur S$166b in losses : Lloyd’s

In a recent report from Lloyd's of London, they have said that a major global cyber-attack could trigger up to US$121bn (S$166bn) in economic losses, surpassing losses from a catastrophic natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy.

Following a survey among companies in Sinapore which identified that 91 percent are only in their early stages of security preparedness, chief executive of Lloyds Asia-Pacific, Kent Chaplin, said the potential economic impact poses significant implications for businesses in Singapore.

Technology has opened the door to a world of opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes, but it has also connected and exposed them to potential threats. This report shows the impact a single cyber attack can have as it ripples through the economy, resulting in potential economic losses similar to some of the world’s worst natural catastrophes.”

Hurricane Sandy, which hit the United States in 2012, is estimated to have resulted in approximately US$50bn in economic losses.

The report, which the insurance giant co-wrote with risk-modelling firm Cyence, examined potential economic losses from the hypothetical hacking of a cloud service provider and cyber-attacks on computer operating systems run by businesses worldwide. The report said that average losses caused by the cloud service attack range from US$4.6bn to US$53bn, but the figure could be as high as US$121bn in an extreme scenario.

As much as US$45bn of that sum may not be covered by cyber policies due to companies underinsuring, it added. The failure of an operating system run by a large number of computers and businesses around the world could cause losses ranging from US$9.7bn to US$28.7bn, the report said.

Insurers are struggling to estimate their potential exposure to cyber-related losses amid mounting cyber risks and interest in cyber insurance. One key challenge is the lack of historical data on which insurers can base their assumptions.

Lloyd’s of London chief executive Inga Beale told Reuters. “Because cyber is virtual, it is such a difficult task to understand how it will accumulate in a big event,

Economic losses in the hypothetical cloud provider attack would dwarf the US$8bn global cost of the WannaCry attack in May, which hit more than 100 countries, according to Cyence.

In Singapore, about 500 Internet Protocol addresses were affected by the WannaCry ransomware, which is malicious software that takes over a computer and prevents users from accessing data until a ransom is paid.

Recent malware attacks only highlight the urgency for companies to mitigate against cyber risks. Asia is particularly vulnerable, given its dynamic digital transformation … The (Singapore) Government’s proposed Cyber Security Bill reinforces the need for policymakers and businesses to work hand-in-hand to safeguard against this growing threat,” said Mr Chaplin.

Last month, an attack of a virus dubbed “NotPetya” spread from Ukraine to businesses around the globe, encrypting data on infected machines and rendering them inoperable at ports, law firms and factories. No critical information infrastructure in Singapore was hit, however some businesses suffered disruptions as employees made alternative work arrangements, such as logging off from company servers and working remotely, as a precaution. “NotPetya” resulted in US$850mn in economic losses globally, Cyence said.

In the hypothetical cloud service attack in the Lloyd’s-Cyence scenario, hackers’ inserted malicious code into a cloud provider’s software designed to trigger system crashes among users a year later.

By then, the malware would have spread among the provider’s customers, from financial services companies to hotels, causing all to lose income and incur other expenses. 

Project cargo consortium formed for Lloyd's platform in China 

Ironshore's Pembroke Managing Agency has launched a Project Cargo Consortium in order to serve the Lloyd's China platform.

Pembroke Lloyd’s Syndicate 4000 offers dedicated coverage for risk exposure and consequential loss related to project cargo transportation and delay in start-up for large scale project risks triggered by China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Ironshore, a Liberty Mutual Company, provides broker-sourced specialty property and casualty insurance coverages for varying risks located throughout the world. Select specialty coverages are underwritten at Lloyd’s through Ironshore’s Pembroke Syndicate 4000.

The new Project Cargo Consortium offers capacity limits of up to US$178 million.

Our new consortium for China cargo line risks replicates the approach and risk appetite of Pembroke’s Project Cargo Consortium in the Lloyd’s market, which currently is the largest of its kind for targeted marine lines,” said Mr Mark Wheeler, CEO of Ironshore International.

Pembroke’s presence in the region enabled us to create the consortium, extending sector underwriting capabilities to cover China risks.

China’s foreign policy mandate, “One Belt, One Road,” was launched in 2013. The initiative calls for China to underwrite billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in countries that link the Silk Road with Europe. Industry estimates suggest that the initiative could generate $3.5bn in insurance premium for marine lines, with Project Cargo emerging as the most significant risk exposure as “Belt” refers to sea lanes.

China’s Yangtze flood is world's costliest natural disaster in 1H 

According to Impact Forecasting, Aon Benelds catastrophe model development team, the most expensive natural disaster in the world during the first half of 2017 was a multiweek flood event that occurred from mid-June to early July. The natural disaster was across China's Yangtze River basin and left more than 410,000 homes damaged or destroyed, vast swathes of cropland submerged and damaged infrastructure.

In its report named “Global Catastrophe Recap: First Half of 2017”, the team says that the total economic losses from the event exceeded US$6.4 billion.

The report estimates that global economic losses from natural disasters for 1H 2017 are at $53bn, which is 56% lower than the 10-year average of $122bn.

Meanwhile, global insured losses were preliminarily estimated at $22bn, 35% lower than the 10-year average of $34bn.

According to the report, the severe convective storm (SCS) peril was the costliest disaster type on an economic basis (nearly $26 billion) during 1H 2017, comprising 48% of the loss total, with the majority of the loss ($23bn) attributable to events in the US. SCS also caused the majority of insured losses ($17+bn), comprising 78% of the loss total.

Natural disasters worldwide claimed at least 2,782 lives during 1H 2017, the lowest figure since 1986. Flooding was the deadliest peril during the period, being the cause of at least 1,806 deaths.

Insurance mart jumps by 21% in 1H on economic growth in Vietnam 

In the first half of 2017, Vietnam’s insurance sector has seen an increase in total premiums to VND47.17trn (US$1.8 bn), resulting in the insurance industry benefitting from the country’s GDP growth.

Vietname News has reported that insurance growth is set to increase as the GDP growth is projected at more than 6% annually over the next three years.

Swiss investment bank UBS has forecast that Vietnam's economic growth will expand by 6.5% this year.

From the total premiums, the revenue from life insurance was VND27.83trn and nonlife insurance premiums were at VND19.34trn in the first six months of this year, said Phm Thu Huong, deputy director of the Ministry of Finance’s Insurance Supervisory Authority (ISA).

There is great potential within the market as the country has a life insurance penetration level at less than 1%. Only 7% of Vietnam's 93mn people have life insurance. However, there many challenges still remaining in the emerging sector.

ISA director Phung Ngoc Khanh said that although awareness among Vietnamese people regarding life insurance may have increased, most still do not believe that insurance is worth the expense.

One main worry for customers is that the life insurance policies usually span over a long term period, and many are concerned for their financial ability to maintain premium payments.

Doubts about the commitment of foreign life insurers to permanently operate in Vietnam also contribute to the low penetration rate.

In addition, many Vietnamese see insurance as an investment, rather than as a protection product. They prefer bank savings, or gold and real estate investments, which have a higher rate of return.

The low penetration rate also stems from the fact that life insurers have only focused their operations in big cities, overlooking 70% of the country’s population that live in rural areas.

Allianz Malaysia expects to form up to 10 tie-ups this year

Allianz Malaysia Bhd is expecting to form 10 partnerships this year in order to diversify its digital offerings and expand its business in Asia.  

George Sartorel, regional CEO of Allianz in Asia-Pacific has said that while Asia is projected to be the largest insurance market in the world by 2020, he noted that the growth going forward was via digital innovation and partnerships.

Over the past 18 months, the group has formed 16 partnerships in Asia, with three of these based in Malaysia.

Sartorel said Asia’s insurance market was expected to experience a double-digit growth, with life and non-life insurance business growing up to 15% per annum over the next 15 years.

That said, we are keen to double the size of our franchise by 2020 in Asia and we are well on track to achieve this,” Sartorel said.

A rapid growth in digital is seen here in Asia, growing at a faster phase than Europe and the United States.

He added “innovation has taken place in Asia on mobile, product development and social media, which is why we firmly believe that the insurance business model of the future will be built right here in Malaysia.”.

Although Malaysia’s insurance market is saturated and mature, he suggested that the industry is growing at a decent rate of about 6%.

Consumer behaviour and landscape are changing rapidly, with a lot of the transformation being led by digital.

“We also see potential for small and medium enterprises driving the growth of the business,” said Sartorel.

Allianz’s partnerships in Asia include with Uber in Indonesia, ParkEasy (a Malaysian start-up that provides easy, safe and insured parking) and Speedrent, which offers homeowners protection.

Additionally, Sartorel said Allianz’s investments in new businesses included a digital science lab in Singapore, apart from venturing into small-ticket insurance partnerships that provided access to new markets.

With the investments in technology, people and parnerships in Asia, I am confident that Allianz will be stronger, going forward,” Sartorel added.

For the first quarter which ended on March 31, 2017, Allianz Malaysia posted a net profit of RM67.17mn compared with RM73.18mn a year ago, against a higher revenue of RM1.21bn from RM1.17bn previously.

Its total assets increased 9.5% to RM14.91mn in 2016 from RM13.6mn in 2015.

In a challenging operating landscape, the company, which has a market value of RM2.47bn, saw a 1.2% increase in gross written premiums to RM4.18bn from RM4.13bn in financial year 2015.

Meanwhile, annualised new premiums were up 5.9% to RM392.5mn in 2016 from RM370.7mn in 2015, driven by agency and bancassurance channels.

Swiss Re to set up Asian regional HQ in Singapore

Swiss Re is upgrading its presence in Singapore significantly as the Swiss financial sector continues to grow business opportunities in the Asian region. Swiss Re is setting up its Asian regional HQ in Singapore in 2018 as it finds the country an attractive location to do business in the region.

The new entity, which will take the name Swiss Re Asia, will have its own regional board of directors, including business leaders who know Asia well and will be able to provide it with fresh perspectives, guidance and contacts. The management in the region will be directly accountable to this new regional board.

Once the new entity in Singapore is operational, Swiss Re is looking at generating an estimated US$6bn gross premiums in Singapore.

Founded in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1863, the Swiss Re Group has operations around the globe and is a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer. It has more than 14,000 employees worldwide. In 2016, Swiss Re delivered a full-year net income of US$3.6bn, supported by solid underwriting and a strong investment result.

Swiss Re has been in Asia since 1913 and has over 1,900 employees in the region, with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore and Bangalore, where it operates a global business solutions centre.

As Singapore and Switzerland celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations this year, Swiss Re is looking to mark 50 years of its presence in Singapore next year. It has been in Singapore since 1968 when it first got a licence to open a representative office.

"Singapore provides us with a long-term regional position that will support the set-up and future operation of our new Asian regional HQ," says Jayne Plunkett, CEO, Reinsurance Asia and regional president, Asia, Swiss Re.

"The country is a global leading financial hub and offers a transparent regulatory environment. It also has a strong supply of highly qualified people, as well as a pro-business mind-set and reliable infrastructure for regional business."

The Asian insurance sector has seen strong growth over the past decade, with the region now accounting for 30 per cent of global insurance premiums, compared to 20 per cent a decade ago. Swiss Re expects the region's non-life and life premiums to grow by 5 cent and 6 per cent respectively, in real terms per annum over the next 10 years.

"We have been part of the Asia insurance growth and want to continue to grow in these markets by further investing and strengthening our commitment to this important region. Setting up our Asian regional HQ will bring us even closer to the market and to our clients. We will be able to provide better and faster service to our clients and partners in this region," says Ms Plunkett

The move also aligns Swiss Re's entity structure across Asia, Europe and Americas regions, so that there is a consistent approach throughout its reinsurance business.

The setting up of the new entity, Swiss Re Asia, is set to benefit the group as it will lead to business growth in the region.

"As one of the largest reinsurers in Asia today, we know it is important to continue to grow in these markets, to develop innovative solutions, and to build talented local teams. Setting up our new entity only makes each of these stronger and more relevant in the local markets," says Ms Plunkett.

"Firstly, our clients and brokers will get more from us. They will get our empowered local teams at their doorstep, delivering highly relevant solutions with deep insights and industry expertise, which with our clients, help to close the protection gaps across Asia.

"We will also have our own regional board of directors like in Americas and Europe, including business leaders who know Asia well, providing us and our clients and brokers with fresh perspectives, guidance and contacts. Our management in the region will be directly accountable to this new regional board.

"We currently operate through a network of branches and subsidiaries of Swiss Re Zurich. With the new set- up, we will have our own headquarters in Asia, which will hold a network of branches and subsidiaries across Asia. Swiss Re's leadership and board of directors believe our reinsurance business in Asia is now as strategically important as our businesses in the Americas and Europe. So it's time we managed Asia in the same way."

With the new entity set up in Singapore, Swiss Re will be one of Asia's largest reinsurers, and a leading pan-Asian reinsurer generating an estimate of US$6bn gross premiums in Singapore. This strengthens Singapore's position as a global financial centre and reinsurance hub in Asia as it will also enhance the attractiveness of Singapore as a financial hub to other industries in the future.

"We are looking at grooming Asian insurance talent into attractive specialist and leadership roles in an international environment. This will help to create jobs, transfer and development of skills to the Singapore workforce and insurance talent pool here," says Ms Plunkett.

She sees insurance as a growth industry in Asia. Over the past decade, total insurance premiums in Asia increased by an annual average of 4.6 per cent, after adjustment for inflation. This is significantly faster than the global average growth rate of 1.4 per cent. Growth has been driven by strong performance of emerging Asian markets, in particular China and India.

Emerging Asia collectively reported an annual average growth rate of almost 12 per cent over the last decade. Increasing risk awareness, a rising middle-income class, urbanisation and market liberalisation have all contributed, she adds.

Total premiums increased by an average real rate of 4.1 per cent in Singapore over the past 10 years. It has a sophisticated insurance market with the participation of both domestic and global insurance companies. Supported by the fast expansion of the primary insurance market, reinsurance business also reported robust growth.

Ms Plunkett says that despite the strong growth of insurance in Asia over the past year, insurance penetration remains low in many Asian countries. At the same time, there are still significant insurance protection gaps in terms of death benefits, medical expenses and property coverage. These all point to the significant pent-up demand in the region.

A number of factors will continue to support insurance growth. Many Asian emerging markets are planning further urbanisation to support economic growth. This will underpin demand for insurance in sectors like property, construction and motor.

"Fundamentally, Asia still has a vast infrastructure gap. A recent report by the Asia Development Bank suggests Asia will need US$1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure spending to close the gap. Many markets are already gearing up to spend on infrastructure, and the recent One-Belt One-Road initiative championed by China is another example. These various projects will generate significant commercial insurance opportunities for insurers in the region," says Ms Plunkett.

Furthermore, many Asian governments are trying to enlist the support of insurance to tackle health, pension and ageing problems. Simply adding more fiscal resources to provide better social security services is now deemed unsustainable. As a result, governments are more receptive to initiatives to encourage the take-up of insurance, including tax and other incentives. This is opening up more opportunities for insurers to participate in the provision of insurance to cater for societies' health and retirement needs, she adds.

Ms Plunkett says Swiss Re's strength lies in being a knowledge leader, understanding generations and societies that are constantly growing and evolving in this region.

"For more than 150 years, Swiss Re has been working towards making the world more resilient. This means that we protect our customers against difficulties and hardships that life inevitability brings. For instance, here in Asia, the region is highly prone to natural disasters and yet most of this region is still grossly under-insured.

"Over the years, we have worked with other insurance companies and governments to help protect their customers and citizens against large natural and man-made disasters. We have made insurance pay out to help recovery, rebuild communities and infrastructure during the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the explosions that happened in Tianjin in 2015, and when typhoons and floods struck countries in the region such as China, India and the South-east Asia countries, or even when an earthquake happens in Indonesia," says Ms Plunkett.

In Singapore, Swiss Re has almost 280 employees from 24 different nationalities. "For many of us, this is one of the most vibrant and liveable cities in the world. And for our business, we will continue to be here - to grow with Singapore and the region, supporting the expansion and resilience of the economies in Asia," adds Ms Plunkett.

Sterling Knight joins Howden

The retail arm of Hyperion Insurance Group, Howden, has announced that it has completed the acquisition of leading specialist broker, Sterling Knight, which is headquartered in Singapore.

Specialising in specie and international employee benefits and serving clients ranging from multinationals to SMEs, Stirling Knight, will continue to operate under its own licence and Dr Victor Adam and his management team will continue to lead the business.

Goh Chye Huat, CEO of Howden Singapore, commented: “Sterling Knight is a broker with a tremendous reputation for specialist expertise, professionalism and exceptional service and I am very pleased that they have chosen to join the Group.  Alongside their market-leading Specie team, which will strengthen our existing capabilities in the region, their International Employee Benefits business will combine with ours to create a very strong proposition in Asia, further leveraging our recent partnership with CXA to extend access to their Flex technology, platform and expertise.” 

Dr Victor Adam, CEO of Sterling Knight Singapore, said: “Joining Howden is an important step for Sterling Knight and means we are now part of the world’s largest employee-owned insurance group.  It gives us and our clients access to Howden’s extensive international reach as well as the product and technical capabilities of the wider Hyperion Group, which include access to RKH’s Specialty and Reinsurance experts in the London market.  Hyperion’s employee-owned and entrepreneurial culture combined with its reach is of huge benefit to our clients and makes Howden the natural home for us.  I look forward to growing the business together.”

David Howden, CEO of Howden and Hyperion, said: “I am extremely pleased to welcome Sterling Knight to the Group.  Their reputation and client-focused ethos are first class and they bring diversification and international expertise to the region.  The acquisition represents another significant milestone for Howden as we implement our regional strategy to grow our Asia footprint.” 

Lawrence Adam, Head of International operations at Sterling Knight, said: “I am excited with this merger as it will give our international team better capabilities and a larger platform for our International and Employee Benefits business.  Going forward we will look to leverage the capabilities from the two teams to achieve even greater success in order to become a leader in the Employee Benefits space”.

The acquisition has received regulatory approval from the MAS.

Insurance giant Aviva sells Friends Provident for £340mn

Insurance giant Aviva will sell its loss-making Friends Provident arm to International Financial Group for £340mn.

The sale was announced following a strategic review of Friends Provident International Limited, which made a post-tax loss of £2mn in 2016 and remitted no cash back to the parent company, Aviva said.

The sale will be made to RL360 Holding Company, which is a subsidiary of New York-based International Financial Group.

The sale is a “good outcome” for Aviva, said Chris Wei, executive chairman, Aviva Asia & FPIL. “It allows us to focus on the significant opportunities we have to grow Aviva’s business across Asia through digital and disrupting the traditional insurance industry.”

There will be no change in service for Friends Provident customers, Aviva said. The firm provides savings, investment and protection products to customers in Asia and the United Arab Emirates.

According to its website, Friends Provident has 500 employees with offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Isle of Man.

Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, has faced pressure in recent months to sell off non-core businesses, with its asset management arm in particular coming under particular scrutiny.

In May it sold half its Spanish life insurance and pension joint ventures for €475mn (£399mn). In March the firm outperformed profit expectations.

Aetna expands in region with Bupa Thailand acquisition

Aetna, a US headquartered global health care benefits provider announced it has acquired the Bupa Group's Thai business, Bupa Thailand, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition will significantly increase Aetna’s presence in Asia, and is crucial to the company’s strategy to go ‘broader and deeper’ into local health care markets.

Aetna’s expertise, coupled with Bupa Thailand’s in-depth knowledge of the local health care system and culture, will ultimately offer customers in Thailand broader choice and continue to build on Bupa Thailand’s first-rate service.

This is a significant and exciting expansion for Aetna in Asia, and clearly demonstrates our commitment to investment and growth in the region and globally,” said Mr Richard di Benedetto, President of Aetna International. “Thailand is an important market for us, with increasing local wealth driving greater adoption of health insurance.”

Bupa Thailand, established over 30 years ago, is Thailand’s leading specialist health insurer, with more than 300,000 members and a network of over 400 health care providers in the country. Bupa Thailand will continue to operate under the Bupa brand for a short time before rebranding as Aetna.