UPDATE 2-UK's Prudential buys S'pore insurance firm for $307 mln

miércoles 6 de enero de 2010 09:47 CET

* UOB's sale of life insurance unit to be completed by Jan 31

* Prudential also enters 12-yr bancassurance deal with UOB

* Prudential sees growth in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand

* UOB shares up 1.4 percent, Prudential up 0.2 percent (Recasts with official confirmation of deal; adds analyst quote)

SINGAPORE, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Britain's biggest insurer Prudential (PRU.L: Cotización) is buying the life insurance unit of Singapore's third-biggest lender UOB (UOBH.SI: Cotización) for S$428 million ($307 million) to beef up its presence in fast-growing Asia.

Prudential also entered into a 12-year partnership with United Overseas Bank to distribute insurance products through UOB's branches in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, it said in a statement.

Prudential will be competing for greater market share in Southeast Asia against AIA, a unit of bailed out U.S. insurance firm AIG (AIG.N: Cotización), and Singapore bank OCBC's (OCBC.SI: Cotización) insurance unit Great Eastern (GELA.SI: Cotización).

The deal would help Prudential meet its aim of growing in Southeast Asia, Kevin Ryan, an analyst at ING in London said.

"The big difficulty for them in all of these areas, and the thing that is hampering their growth in their targeted countries is getting people on the ground selling products. So having these bank branches looks like good news," Ryan said, adding that the pricing did not appear to be excessive.   Continuación...