UPDATE 1-Manulife, HDFC Life said among bidders for HSBC India insurance arm
* Winner to get access to about 5,500 bank branches
* Sale is part of HSBC's exit from noncore businesses
* Foreign ownership in Indian insurers now capped at 26 pct
* State-run LIC controls 65 pct of Indian life insurance market
By Denny Thomas and Sumeet Chatterjee
HONG KONG/MUMBAI, April 10 (Reuters) - Canada's Manulife Financial Corp and the Indian affiliate of Standard Life plc are among the suitors to place first-round bids for HSBC plc's Indian life insurance business, a stake valued around $200 million, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
HSBC plc, Europe's biggest bank, is selling its 26 percent stake in a life insurance joint venture with two Indian state-run banks, as it sheds noncore businesses globally.
The winner of the auction will get immediate access to about 5,500 branches of the two state-run banks. Bancassurance - an arrangement in which a bank and an insurance firm tie up so that the insurer can sell its products to the bank's customers - is emerging as a key tool to sell insurance products across Asia as the life insurance industry matures in the region.
HDFC Life, a joint venture between India's top mortgage lender HDFC Ltd and British insurer Standard Life ; Birla Sun Life, a venture between Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group and Canada's Sun Life; and ICICI Prudential Life, a joint venture between India's No. 2 lender ICICI Bank and Britain's No. 1 insurer Prudential, are among the bidders to submit first-round bids last week, the people said. Continued...