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13 April 2024

BNP Paribas to up Taiwan presence with insurance JV

By Reuters

BNP Paribas yesterday said it would expand in Taiwan's insurance market with a new joint venture, even as the global financial crisis prompts several of its international rivals to withdraw.

The bank's BNP Paribas Assurance unit will hold 49 per cent of the T$2 billion (Dh22 million) venture, while Taiwan Co-operative Bank will take the rest. Prior to the venture's formation, BNP sold insurance in Taiwan via banking channels.

"It was a tough year in 2008, but Taiwan's market still managed to grow," said Kurt Cheng, a senior vice-president of BNP's existing Taiwan insurance business.

"We expect the market to continue its growth momentum in 2009," he said on the sidelines of an event marking the joint venture's formation.

BNP is entering the Taiwan market as a number of major global players sell their businesses there to raise cash to shore up ailing balance sheets at home during the global financial crisis.

Dutch financial giant ING last October announced the sale of its Taiwan insurance business to Fubon Financial for $600m (Dh2.2bn).

AIG, the troubled US insurer, is also trying to sell its Taiwan business, Nan Shan Life, sources have said.

Taiwan Co-operative Bank's Chairman Liu Deng-cheng said the BNP joint venture aimed to break even in the next two to three years. The venture will use the 300-plus branches the Taiwan lender has on the island to sell its products. Liu said his bank, in which the Taiwan Government owns about 40 percent, had no plans to sell a stake to BNP, denying market talk.