Canada's Sun Life not selling UK unit

LONDON Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:19am EDT

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LONDON Oct 19 (Reuters) - Canadian insurer Sun Life Financial is committed to Britain, it said on Friday after the Financial Times reported it had shelved plans to sell its British division.

"Sun Life Financial is committed to the UK market," a spokesman said, declining to comment directly on the FT report.

Sun Life, Canada's third-biggest life insurer, was reported in May to have hired bankers to sell its British business because it wanted to avoid Europe's planned new Solvency II capital rules for insurers.

Sun Life is prioritising expansion in the booming economies of south-east Asia, and said last month it aimed to grow through small-scale acquisitions.

The company was in the running to buy British rival Aviva's Sri Lankan operation, eventually sold to Hong Kong-based AIA , sources told Reuters last month.

Sun Life's British unit has 750,000 policyholders and held nearly 12 billion pounds ($19.36 billion) of assets as of June 30 this year. The annuity-focused business stopped accepting new customers in 2010.

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