Britain's Prudential acquires UOB's insurance unit for £191 million

Prudential Plc, Britain's second-biggest insurer, is acquiring the life insurance unit of Singapore's third-biggest bank United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOB) for £191 million ($307 million) to boost its presence in the fast growing markets of South-East Asia.

The acquisition comes on a day when its larger rival and Britain's biggest insurer Aviva unveiled plans to acquire US equity manager River Road Asset Management to advance its institutional business in the US. (See: UK insurer Aviva to acquire US equity manager, River Rock)

Prudential also entered into a 12-year strategic partnership to develop a major regional bancassurance business with UOB to market and distribute its investment, savings and protection insurance products through the UOB Group's 414 bank branches in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

The acquisition of UOB's life insurance operation will consolidate Prudential's position in Singapore, where Prudential is already a leading life insurer with strong distribution network through tied agency and distribution partners.

Prudential, which has £245 billion in assets under management, operates in 13 Asian markets where it has more than 11 million life customers. In November, Prudential had opened its first Islamic asset management business in Malaysia to tap into the wealth of Muslims globally.

Prudential already has a tie-up with Standard Chartered covering Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea and Vietnam. It also has joint ventures in India and in China.