Chinatrust Takes Over MetLife Taiwan

Chinatrust Financial Holding announced yesterday (March 28) acquisition of 100% stake in Metropolitan Life Insurance Taiwan at US$180 million, or NT$5.3 billion, thereby extending the reach of its business empire into the insurance sector.
Chinatrust and MetLife inked the deal yesterday, as a result of which both the name and corporate logo, Snoopy, of the latter will exit from the Taiwanese market, due to the required change of its name, in both Chinese and English, afterwards.
Daniel I.K. Wu, president of Chinatrust Holding, remarked that the deal signified the first step of the company into the insurance market, characterizing it as a strategic investment, rather than simply a financial one. He pledged to protect the interests of MetLife`s 300,000 clients and the working right of its 624 staffers, whose pays and fringe benefits won`t see any change in two years.
Peter Smyth, managing director of the MetLife`s Asia-Pacific operation, attributed the decision to sell out MetLife Taiwan to the limited scale of its operation, despite its presence of 20 years in the local market.
Chinatrust offered the highest tender among the four contestants in the open bidding, which also attracted the participation of Taishin Financial Holding, Mercuries Life Insurance, and Want Want Group. This is the second opening bidding for MetLife and the takeover price is slightly higher than the previous one of US$112.5 million (NT$3.6 billion at the exchange rate then), offered by Waterland Financial Holding, The previous deal was aborted later on, due to the opposition of some major shareholders of Waterland, which prompted the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to veto it.
Daniel I.K. Wu, though, stated that the company`s offer is a reasonable one, as it is equivalent to only 57% of MetLife`s book value of NT$9.8 billion. The takeover will further widen the scope of Chinatrust`s operation, which now covers banking, securities, insurance agency, venture capital, assets management, security, and lotto lottery, constituting a solid basis and rich resources for the company to tap the huge Chinese market, according to Wu.

(by Philip Liu)



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