* Asia contributed less than 2pct of RSA's Q1 net earned
* Exit part of global restructuring, RSA announced sale of
* RSA shares are up 19.3 pct this year, in-line with broader
(Adds details on RSA operations, other global insurers exiting
By Denny Thomas
HONG KONG, June 17 RSA Insurance Group Ltd
, Britain's largest non-life insurer, is looking to sell
its Asian operations in an auction that could fetch up to $500
million and draw a wide range of suitors, people familiar with
the sale process told Reuters.
The sale is part of a group-wide restructuring led by new
Chief Executive Stephen Hester, after losses caused by extreme
weather and accounting irregularities at its Irish division hit
its finances and prompted the departure of several senior
Insurers considering bids include Sompo Japan Insurance, a
unit of NKSJ Holdings Inc as well as France's AXA
, the people said. Australia's QBE Insurance Group Ltd
and German insurer Allianz SE are also
weighing their options, they added.
RSA, which is being advised by Goldman Sachs Group,
is expected to kick off the sale process in the coming weeks,
one of the people said.
RSA declined to comment, as did AXA, Allianz, QBE and Sompo
Japan. AXA said it takes an extremely disciplined approach to
examining acquisition opportunities but did not specifically
Goldman Sachs also declined to comment.
Best known in Britain for its More Than home and motor
insurance brand, RSA joins a long list of global insurers to
retreat or scale back Asian operations. Aviva, ING Groep
, American International Group and New York Life
are among prominent insurers that have cut down their Asia
exposure since the global financial crisis.
At the same, some well-capitalised Asian companies,
including AIA Group Ltd and Canadian insurers Manulife
Financial Corp and Sun Life Financial Inc have
snapped up businesses sold by the retreating insurers.
In Asia, RSA has businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore, China
and India but those operations contributed less than 2 percent
to net premiums in the first quarter of 2014. That has
encouraged the company to focus on core markets, such as the
United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandinavia.
Net earned premiums from Asia fell 7 percent in the first
quarter of 2014 to 38 million pounds ($64 million). RSA had
total net earned premiums of 1.9 billion pounds, according to
As part of its turnaround, RSA is seeking to raise $2.7
billion in capital, about half of which will come from the sale
of non-core operations and money saved from scrapping its
dividend, with the rest coming from a rights issue that wrapped
up in April.
Asset sales so far include the sale of its Baltics and
RSA shares have risen 19.3 percent year to date, broadly
in-line with the performance of FTSE 100 Index.
($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Additional reporting by Taiga
Uranaka in Tokyo, Byron Kaye in Sydney and Christopher Vellacott
in London; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)