Sumitomo Life to buy HSBC's 18 pct stake in Vietnam insurer for $340 mln

TOKYO Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:36am EST

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TOKYO Dec 20 (Reuters) - Sumitomo Life Insurance Co said on Thursday it is buying HSBC Holding's 18 percent stake in Vietnamese insurer Baoviet Holdings for about $340 million, the latest in a spate of acquisitions by Japanese financial firms in Southeast Asia.

Faced with weak growth prospects at home and a strong yen, Japanese banks and life insurers have stepped up their overseas expansion efforts. For life insurers, Southeast Asia's low insurance penetration rates and growing middle-class are a big draw.

Under the deal, Sumitomo Life, one of Japan's top four life insurers, will acquire the stake for about 7.1 trillion Vietnam dong ($340.3 million). The transaction is subject to regulators' approval.

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