Japan's Meiji to buy stake in Thai Life

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co, Japan's second-largest life insurer, plans to purchase a 15% stake in Thai Life Insurance Plc, highlighting Japanese financial institutions' keen interest in the fast-growing Southeast Asian market amid lackluster growth at home.

The late 2015 launch of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), which will transform Asean into a single market, also solicits overseas investors to expand its turf into Southeast Asian market.

Neither Meiji Yasusda nor Thai Life, the country's fourth-largest life insurer by total premiums, disclosed the deal value, but Bloomberg quoted an unnamed source as saying the deal is worth 70 billion yen (22.1 billion baht).

“Leveraging Meiji Yasuda Life's expertise in international life insurance, product development, distribution channels and technology, the partnership will strengthen Thai Life's efforts to achieve growth and to enhance its capabilities in the AEC market. The management philosophy of the Company will remain unchanged post the transaction,'' Thai Life president Chai Chaiyawan said in a statement.

The Chaiyawan family is Thai Life's largest shareholder.

"The strategic partnership will help Thai Life to take full advantage of the rapid growth of the economy and the life insurance industry in Asean,'' said Mr Chai.

Barclays serves as sole financial adviser and Baker & McKenzie act as legal adviser to Thai Life for the transaction.

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