MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings is to pay 44 billion yen to acquire 6.3% of Australia’s Challenger Ltd, a provider of retirement-focused insurance and asset management services and a leading player in the country’s superannuation sector.
The development follows Nippon Life’s move in October last year to acquire 80% of MLC Ltd, the country’s fourth largest life co, from National Australia Bank, and Dai-ichi Life Insurance’s 2010 100% purchase of Tower Australia Group. The much smaller Sony Life is currently doing due diligence on advice and insurance firm ClearView Wealth.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, the parent of Nikko Asset Management which already has a presence Down Under, is also planning to “have a serious go at the Australian pensions market” by offering its own products and services, deputy president Yasuyuki Kawasaki told the Nikkei last week.
Meanwhile Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking, the asset management arm of Japan’s biggest banking group, told Reuters last month that it is ready to spend up to 1 trillion yen to acquire global fund management firms, but mostly from North America and Europe, with the aim of doubling client assets its stewardship.
Nippon Life is the country’s largest wholly privately owned life insurer as the government still holds a significant stake in the larger Japan Post Insurance.
Like Japan’s other giant financial groups MS&AD Insurance Group is the product of repeated rounds of consolidation in both banking and insurance industries since the early 199os (see Japan’s shrinking insurance sector in the “Reference points” box at right). Its Mitsui Sumitomo Primary Life Insurance already has a business tie-up with Challenger.
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