The sale of the shares is being carried out by way of a private placement to a small group of institutional investors conducted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The sale shares have been priced at HKD22.50 (approximately $2.90) per share. Upon the completion of the sale, which is expected to take place on 16 July 2013, the gross sale proceeds to be realized by Zurich will be HKD 2.19bn (approximately $283m).

Following completion of the transaction, Zurich Insurance will continue to hold 292.5 million H shares in NCI, representing approximately 9.4% of the total issued share capital of NCI.

Zurich chairman for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Geoff Riddell, said: "Zurich is a long-time investor in NCI, and appreciates its high quality management team, clear strategy and good prospects within China’s life insurance market.

"The sale reflects Zurich’s desire to manage its financial exposure to a large single holding of shares. Zurich intends to reinvest the proceeds of the sale into investments in Asia. This will allow Zurich to hold its position in Asian markets while also diversifying its investment portfolio," Riddell added.