Bank of China Takes Full Ownership of BOC Insurance

2010/08/09

Bank of China Ltd. will further strengthen its insurance presence after winning regulatory approval for an internal equity transfer of its affiliate nonlife insurer.

Following further deregulation by Chinese banking and insurance regulators, the general insurer Bank of China Insurance Co. Ltd. will become a 100%-owned subsidiary of Bank of China following internal equity transfers approved by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.

BOC Insurance was originally a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of China Group Insurance Co. Ltd.. At the end of July 2010, BOC Group Insurance was approved to transfer its 100% equity stake in BOC Insurance to its banking affiliate, Bank of China, according to the CIRC.

Following the completion of the equity transfer, BOC Group Insurance is no longer the shareholder of BOC Insurance, and Bank of China will become the lone shareholder of BOC Insurance, said the regulator.

The board of directors of BOC Insurance earlier said that as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of China, one of the largest lenders in China, the insurer will strictly focus on a bancassurance development strategy by leveraging the bank's brand, sales channels, customer base and business cooperation opportunities (BestWire, Jan. 20, 2010).

In the first half of 2010, BOC Insurance recorded total cumulative original premium income of 1.2 billion yuan (US$177 million), noted the CIRC.

In September 2009, Bank of China was permitted to acquire all of the equity of BOC Insurance from the bank's Hong Kong-based subsidiary Bank of China Group Insurance Co. The bank was also allowed to invest in Heng An Standard Life, a 50-50 joint venture between U.K.-based Standard Life Insurance Co. and China's Tianjin Teda International Holding, through its nonlife subsidiary BOC Insurance (BestWire, Sept. 11, 2009).

Bank of China would take a majority stake in Heng An Standard Life, which would then become a domestic insurance company, according to Standard Life.

Beijing-based BOC Insurance was established by BOC Group Insurance in January 2005, to operate general insurance businesses in mainland China. In 2007, the insurer increased its solvency by enhancing its registered capital to HK$2 billion (US$258 million), according to BOC Group Insurance.

BOC Group Insurance was established in July 1992 mainly to underwrite general insurance business and provide relevant services and comprehensive coverage to customers. In addition to BOC Insurance, the insurance group has six branches and a 49%-owned associated life insurance operation -- BOC Group Life Assurance Co. Ltd. -- in Hong Kong.

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