(Adds Philippines deal, share price, analyst)
BANGKOK, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Siam Commercial Bank Pcl , Thailand’s second largest bank by assets, and Prudential Life Assurance (Thailand), a unit of UK-based Prudential Plc, have signed a bancassurance partnership deal aimed at the lender’s wealthy clients.
An ageing population and a limited welfare system provides opportunities for insurers in Thailand, the eighth largest insurance market in Asia, according to a 2016 Swiss Re report.
“Thailand is one of the largest insurance markets in Southeast Asia with low insurance penetration, a growing and increasingly prosperous population with significant insurance and savings needs,” Aman Chowla, chief executive of Prudential Thailand said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Bancassurance is an integral part of our multi-distribution strategy to reach Thai customers.”
Asia-focused Prudential, Britain’s largest insurer by market capitalisation, also said this week it had signed a similar deal with Robinsons Bank in the Philippines.
Prudential’s shares hit record highs and were trading up 1.68 percent at 1,940 pence at 1005 GMT, with analysts at JPMorgan describing the two bancassurance deals as “a small positive” and has a “neutral” rating on the stock.
The SCB deal, which will initially offer three unit-linked products from Prudential, “perfectly” fits in with the financial and investment needs of its customers, said Salisa Hanpanich, executive vice president of the bank’s segment management division.
A unit-linked insurance policy allows holders to invest in qualified instruments, such as mutual funds.
The SCB deal comes less than a year after the bank attempted to sell its life insurance arm to Hong Kong insurer FWD Group.
Life insurance direct premiums in Thailand stood at 533.2 billion baht ($16.10 billion) in 2015, while non-life premiums were at 209.3 billion baht, latest available government data showed.
Reporting by Wirat Buranakanokthanasan, Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath/Jeremy Gaunt