May 5, 2011 / 4:19 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Sun Life says to focus acquisitions on Asia

* Says acquisitions in Latin America not probable

* Announced plans for Philippines acquisition in February

TORONTO, May 5 (Reuters) - Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO), Canada’s No. 3 insurer, is set to focus expansion efforts on Asia, following up on the acquisition of a small Philippines insurer in the first quarter, Chief Executive Don Stewart said on Thursday.

Stewart also said that while the company’s M&A strategy is not governed by size or geography, an acquisition in Latin America is not likely.

“I generally don’t comment too much on geography, because sometimes deals show up in unexpected places, but I would say that Latin America is not a probable arena of future expansion,” he said on a conference call on Thursday.

Sun Life’s current footprint spreads across more than a dozen countries, including Canada, the United States, China, India, Japan and the Philippines, and Stewart said that would likely remain the case.

The company has been making a push in Asia, where its 20 percent-owned Everbright joint venture became the first foreign JV to be recognized as a domestic Chinese company last year.

In February it announced plans to raise its presence in the Philippines with the acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Grepalife Financial, a unit of the Yuchengco Group.

“We continue to see opportunities in different places in Asia of varying sizes,” Stewart said when asked about waning acquisition targets in the region. “There will continue to be opportunities in Asia.”

Sun Life reported a 5.8 percent rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by a strong North American equity market performance that gave a boost to its investments. [ID:nN04199310]

$1=$0.96 Canadian Reporting by Pav Jordan and John McCrank; editing by Peter Galloway

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