Dah Sing gets five bids for insurance unit, top offer about $1.3 billion: sources
By Denny Thomas
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Dah Sing Financial Holdings Ltd 0440.HK has received at least five bids for its life insurance unit, including offers from Canada's Sun Life Insurance Inc SLF.TO and Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings Co 2007.HK, people familiar with the matter said.
The highest bid in the final round for the insurance business of one of Hong Kong's last remaining family-run banks was close to HK$10 billion ($1.3 billion), about 30 percent more than initially expected, they said, declining to be identified disclosing confidential information.
China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co Ltd 0966.HK, unlisted Qian Hai Life Insurance Co Ltd and Beijing-based investment firm J.D. Capital also put in bids, they added.
It was not immediately clear who submitted the top offer. One person said it was about 25 percent bigger than the next highest bid. A winner is likely to be announced next month, the people added.
The unit represents an attractive way for a traditional insurer to expand sales of its products using Dah Sing's network of 70 branches in Hong Kong, Macau and on the mainland. Other suitors not currently in insurance are keen to diversify away from their slowing home market, the people said.
Insurance businesses in Hong Kong have generated strong interest. Last year J.D. Capital bought Ageas' (AGES.BR: Quote) Hong Kong operations for about $1.4 billion..
Sun Life, Country Garden, Qian Hai and China Taiping Insurance declined to comment. A representative for J.D. Capital could not be reached for a comment.
Dah Sing said in an email that it was reviewing strategic alternatives for its life insurance business but that no decision had been made and no timetable had been set. Continued...