Singlife, Aviva Singapore to merge in $3.2b deal

Home-grown insurer Singapore Life (Singlife) intends to merge with Aviva Singapore in a deal valued at $3.2 billion, which will make it one of the largest in the South-east Asian insurance sector and the largest in Singapore.

In a statement issued last night, Singlife said the deal will bring its mobile savings and protection solutions to Aviva’s 1.5 million strong customer base, and offer existing Singlife customers a deeper product range and advisory capabilities.

The transaction is subject to closing conditions, including regulatory approval, and is expected to complete by January next year. The merger of the Singlife and Aviva Singapore legal entities is targeted to take place in the first half of next year, subject to approval by the Singapore courts.

Until the merger is complete, Singlife and Aviva Singapore will continue to operate independently.

When merged, the new combined business will initially be named Aviva Singlife, and will initially trade using both the Singlife and Aviva brands.

Subject to regulatory approval, current Singlife chairman Ray Ferguson will continue as chairman of the new group. Singlife group chief executive Walter de Oude will be appointed deputy chairman, and current Aviva Singapore chief executive Nishit Majmudar will be appointed chief executive of the combined entity’s Singapore licensed insurance business.

Aviva will retain a 25 per cent equity shareholding in the new business, while Singlife’s existing shareholder Sumitomo Life Insurance Company will hold 20 per cent. Aflac Ventures, Aberdeen Asset Management, IPGL Limited and minorities will collectively hold 20 per cent. Global alternative asset firm TPG will hold the remaining 35 per cent.

Mr Ferguson noted that Covid-19 and changing consumer demands have created more interest in mobile savings and protection solutions, as well as in on-demand financial advice.

“By joining forces with Aviva Singapore, we are creating a home-grown regional brand that will go far beyond insurance and deliver on these ambitions by creating innovative financial products with intuitive technology and independent advice,” he said.

Mr Majmudar said the partnership will boost Aviva Singapore’s customer experience capabilities.

“Joining forces with Singlife, known for its mobile-first approach, will further enhance what we deliver – a comprehensive set of solutions with a superior customer experience,” he added.

Said Mr de Oude: “We are building something truly inspirational, harnessing the best of financial services for the benefit of Singaporeans and the region.”

The partnership is Singlife’s most significant milestone to date, with its previous milestone being its acquisition of Zurich Life Singapore in 2018. Singlife manages almost $7 billion in life insurance coverage.

Aviva Singapore’s businesses included in the transaction are its insurance business, unit trust platforms Navigator and dollarDEX, and two of the largest financial advisory firms in Singapore, Aviva Financial Advisers and Professional Investment Advisory Services.

THE BUSINESS TIMES

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