May 9, 2013 / 3:58 AM / 4 years ago

Metlife, Manulife said to bid for Malaysia AMMB life insurance unit

HONG KONG/SINGAPORE, May 9 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp and Metlife Inc are among the suitors to submit first-round bids for the life insurance unit of Malaysian lender AMMB Holdings Bhd, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, in a deal that could be worth up to $350 million.

Zurich Insurance Group is also a bidder, the people said, as global and regional insurers descend on Southeast Asia for acquisition opportunities. The hot, regional insurance M&A market has been spurred by the Southeast Asia's rising personal income and the industry's strong growth potential.

Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li's Pacific Century Group, ACE Ltd , and two Japanese insurers are among the other companies said to have submitted preliminary bids before Wednesday's deadline, the people said.

Officials with AMMB Holdings declined comment. All suitors mentioned in the story declined comment. The sources declined to be identified as the sale process is confidential.

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