By Andy Sambidge
Company president says in talks to buy stake in Dubai life insurer from European bank
Japan's Orix Corp is reportedly in talks to spend about $400m to buy a stake in a Dubai-based life insurer from a European bank.
Orix president Makoto Inoue said his finance and leasing company may acquire as much as 49 percent of an insurance holding company in the emirate, Inoue said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The Tokyo-based firm is now conducting due diligence to decide transaction terms, he said without naming the target or the seller.
"The Middle East is interesting," Inoue said. "There are many joint ventures with European financial firms there, and we see opportunities as banks are now struggling with their businesses and want to sell noncore operations," he told Bloomberg.
Orix is also said to be considering investing in aircraft leasing, asset managers and other insurers in Middle Eastern countries as European firms sell assets to rebuild capital and retrench in their home markets.
The company plans to sell about $3bn in bonds this year to accelerate an overseas expansion plan hampered by Europe's debt crisis and the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, Bloomberg added.
Total life insurance premiums in the GCC was $1.8bn in 2010, a 12 percent increase from a year earlier, according to a report by Alpen Capital.
That compares to global life insurance premiums of $2.5trn in the same period.