(Bloomberg) -- PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia has revived its plan to sell a stake in its life insurance arm, which is attracting interest from suitors in a deal that could fetch about $500 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
FWD Group Ltd., backed by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, and BNP Paribas Cardif SA are among potential bidders for a significant minority stake in PT Asuransi BRI Life, the people said. Prudential Plc and Samsung Life Insurance Co. are also weighing offers for the business, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.
A transaction could also involve a so-called bancassurance partnership, which allows an insurer to sell its products through the bank’s branches, the people said. The state-owned lender has requested binding bids as early as next month, although the coronavirus outbreak could delay the process, the people said.
Deliberations are ongoing and the companies could still decide against pursuing a transaction, the people said. Representatives for Bank Rakyat Indonesia, Cardif, FWD, Prudential and Samsung Life declined to comment.
This could be at least the third attempt by Bank Rakyat to sell a stake in the insurer. The lender tried to dispose a 40% stake in BRI Life in 2015. At that time, FWD and BNP Paribas Cardif were already among parties vying for the holding, Bloomberg News had reported. In 2018, Morgan Stanley was hired to advise on the sale only to see process put on ice again last year.
Any transaction would add to the $34 billion of announced deals involving Southeast Asian financial institutions in the past 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That includes FWD’s $3 billion purchase of the life insurance operations of Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank Pcl and Bangkok Bank Pcl’s $2.7 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in PT Bank Permata.
Bank Rakyat was founded in 1895 in Purwokerto, Central Java. The country’s oldest lender used to be fully owned by the government until its listing in Jakarta in 2003. The bank had about 1,417 trillion rupiah ($87 billion) in assets in 2019, according to its latest annual report. The lender is seeking to boost its digital presence and allocate financing to unearth promising startups.
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