UPDATE 1-AIA, Pru among bidders for DBS's $1.5 bln distribution deal-sources
* Deal is last remaining such opportunity in Asia
* Manulife and incumbent Aviva also bidding
* Deal allows insurers to sell through DBS branches (Adds details of other bidders, background on bancassurance)
By Denny Thomas
HONG KONG, Feb 4 (Reuters) - AIA Group Ltd, Prudential plc and Manulife Financial Corp are among firms shortlisted to become the insurance partner of Singapore's DBS in a bank distribution deal worth around $1.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said.
DBS's bancassurance deal, under which it will distribute products exclusively of the chosen partner over 15 years, is the last major agreement of this kind available for insurers keen to tap into Asia's fast-growing insurance market.
Current DBS partner Aviva plc has also been shortlisted for the agreement that starts next year, the people told Reuters.
Late last year, DBS hired Morgan Stanley to advise on the deal. It was not immediately clear when the final selection of an insurance partner for DBS would be made.
DBS is keen to partner with just one insurer for all the Asian markets it operates in, but to create competition in the process and have flexibility, it has also shortlisted Canada's Sun Life Financial Inc, Richard Li's Hong Kong-based insurer FWD Insurance and Metlife Inc, who have submitted bids only for smaller markets, the people said. Continued...