Bank of East Asia (BEA), a major lender based in Hong Kong, has decided to divest its life insurance unit, BEA Life.
The move follows the lender’s recent strategic review of its portfolio of businesses and assets. It is expected to enable the BEA to bolster its profits and stock performance.
BEA said in a statement: “As an immediate output of the strategic review, the Bank has decided to initiate a sale process for BEA Life in order to enhance the value of the Bank’s business, improve its financial position and enable its management team to focus on its core banking operations in Hong Kong and Mainland China.”
BEA Life, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the bank, offers a range of life insurance products to both individual and corporate customers in Hong Kong, through the bank’s branches and online channel.
As part of the sale process, BEA plans to enter into a long-term exclusive distribution agreement with BEA Life buyer to sell insurance offering through its banking platform.
Additionally, the bank intends to identify strategic and synergistic partnerships to further develop its banking business in Mainland China as well as in other regions.
BEA co-chief executives Adrian Li Man-kiu and Brian Li Man-bun said: “With a more nimble business, we will be better positioned to pursue our strategic priorities, thereby strengthening our core operations, supporting our growth initiatives and optimising shareholder return.”
According to reports, people familiar with the insurance business said the unit, with gross written premiums of HK$4.8bn ($619.3m) last year, could fetch between $450m and $600m.
Goldman Sachs will act as the financial advisor to BEA for the sale of BEA Life.