China Construction Bank buys ING's stake in Pacific Antai Life

China Construction Bank (CCB), the world's third largest lender by market capitalisation, has agreed buy the entire 50 per cent stake held by Dutch financial conglomerate ING Groep NV in Pacific Antai Life Insurance Co, in a bid to further expand its presence in the insurance sector.

CCB said the deal still has to be cleared by the regulatory authorities.

Shanghai-based Pacific Antai Life Insurance Co, with total assets of 3.5 billion yuan and 300,000 policyholders, is a 50:50 joint venture set up by ING and China Pacific Insurance Co in 1998.

The announcement come contrary to earlier reports that Bank of Beijing, 16 per cent owned by ING, was planning to invest in Pacific Antai Insurance.

China's top banking regulator last month gave the green light for lenders to invest in insurers but said the purchases would be limited to one company each.

The permission follows a memorandum on enhancing cross-sector supervision issued by China Banking Regulatory Commission and China Insurance Regulatory Commission in early 2000s.