British bank HSBC and the insurance venture of Malaysia’s Maybank are reportedly contending to acquire French insurer AXA’s Singapore operations.

According to a Bloomberg report, the British bank and Etiqa, the majority owned JV of Maybank, have been shortlisted for the next round of the potential deal.

A Chinese firm is also among the list of bidders, the publication added citing people familiar with the matter.

Deliberations are underway as bidders can still opt out from the process with the deadline for submitting binding bids is set to end in a few weeks.

Etiqa chief strategy officer Chris Eng said the company constantly looks for opportunities and value in the Southeast Asia region, declining to elaborate further. A representative from Axa did not respond, while HSBC official declined to comment, when reached by Bloomberg.

In August last year, it was reported that AXA was weighing a sale of its Singapore unit, as part of its attempts to raise funds by offloading peripheral operations.

As per Axa’s annual report, the Singapore business, which provides life and property and casualty insurance, reported €615m ($745m) of revenue in 2019.

The sale of the unit is expected to generate around $700m.

AXA’s move to offload smaller units

AXA CEO Thomas Buberl has been trying focus on property and casualty insurance following the company’s purchase of XL Group in 2018.

Since then the company has been divesting its small businesses globally in a bid to generate funds for the XL deal.

In December 2020, AXA brokered a deal to sell its insurance operations in the Gulf region to Fairfax-backed Gulf Insurance Group in a deal valued at $269m.

Last October, the company finalised €1bn deal to divest its Life & Savings, Property & Casualty and Pension businesses in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.