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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Malaysia's AMMB Holdings will sell a 51 percent stake in its insurance arm AmLife Insurance for 812 million ringgit ($249 million) to U.S. insurer Metlife Inc, the Asian lender said in a statement on Thursday.
"With MetLife's global expertise, best-in-class capabilities, innovative products and services, we will materialise the full growth potential of our life insurance and takaful businesses," AMMB's group managing director Ashok Ramamurthy said in the statement.
Manulife Financial Corp and Zurich Insurance Group were among the other suitors to submit first round bids for the life insurance unit, as global and regional insurers descend on Southeast Asia for acquisition opportunities.
Asia-Pacific M&A in the insurance sector reached a record$30.5 billion worth of deals last year, driven by activity in places such as Malaysia and Thailand.
AMMB will retain a part share in AmLife and fifty-one percent of AmFamily Takaful Berhad. The deal is subject to regulatory approval from the central bank and Malaysia's finance ministry.
As part of the deal, MetLife will also enter an exclusive 20-year agreement to sell insurance and takaful products through AMMB's banking network across Malaysia.
Morgan Stanley was the exclusive financial advisor to AMMB.