AIA stake 'being sought by Chinese consortium'

16 August 2010

A 30 per cent stake in AIA is reportedly being sought by a consortium of leading Chinese companies.

The AIG-owned Asian life insurance business is the subject of interest from the group, which is said to include Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Life Insurance and Cinda Asset Management Fosun Group.

According to a report in the 21st Century Business Herald, Hony Capital and Alibaba.com are also members of the consortium.

Insider sources have now told Reuters that AIG and its advisers are looking to secure Chinese investments in AIA ahead of the unit being made the subject of an initial public offering (IPO) later this year.

AIG is said to be planning to list AIA on the Hong Kong stock exchange and four financial institutions have been reportedly lined up to help globally co-ordinate the IPO.

They are Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.

If the Chinese consortium fails to acquire the 30 per cent stake it wants in AIA, it is believed that it will not participate in the IPO.

Negotiations between the two parties saw China Life value AIA at between $25 and $27 billion, considerably lower than the $35.5 billion Prudential agreed to pay for the division earlier this year before its bid was scrapped.

But it is likely a total of around $10 billion would be paid for the 30 per cent stake, on the basis that AIA is valued in the region of $30 billion.

If AIG manages to secure the Chinese consortium's investment, it should make it simpler to get support for the IPO from mutual funds and traditional institutions as a benchmark will be set for the public offering.

Earlier this month, Agricultural Bank of China boosted the size of its IPO to $22.1 billion to make it the largest yet.

By Asim Shah

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