CORRECTED-Japan's Meiji Yasuda Life eyes acquisition opportunity in U.S.

Wed Aug 6, 2014 4:52am EDT

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(Corrects "the Middle East" in the second paragraph to "Central and Eastern Europe")

TOKYO Aug 6 (Reuters) - Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co is looking for an acquisition opportunity in the United States in addition to emerging markets such as Southeast Asia, a top executive at the Japanese insurer said on Wednesday.

"Our main targets are growth markets such as Southeast Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America," Meiji Yasuda Deputy President Hiroaki Tonooka told Reuters in an interview. "But these areas take time (to make profit contributions). So we are also looking at developed markets including North America," he said.

Japanese life insurance companies have been actively buying stakes in Asian insurers, but their investments have been limited to minority stakes. Last year, Meiji Yasuda agreed to buy a 15 percent stake in Thai Life.

Tonooka said Meiji Yasuda would consider buying a majority stake in future overseas M&A deals now that it has acquired experience and knowledge about management of insurers in other countries.

The company has said it can use up to 250 billion yen ($2.4 billion) for overseas acquisitions during the three years through March 2017. (1 US dollar = 102.5000 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; editing by Chris Gallagher)

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