Hong Kong-based FWD bought a minority stake in the life insurance arm of PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), furthering its plan to build a pan-regional presence for the business.
FWD – backed by Richard Li Tzar-kai, younger son of renowned Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing – bought a minority stake (30 percent) in BRI Life for around $300 million, according to an «SCMP» report citing unnamed sources, valuing the firm at about $1 billion. 
This adds to its existing regional presence in Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia.
«We are now in all the major markets that we aimed to build in,» said Huynh Thanh Phong, FWD’s chief executive.
Indonesia Pursuit
The firm first entered Indonesia through a joint venture in 2015 that had less than 1 percent of market share by life gross premiums as of 2019-end. Now, it has access to nearly half of Indonesia’s population, according to Huynh, through the nomination of BRI Life and FWD Life.
But the deal took considerable time and effort including the demonstration of a strong track record for bank collaboration which was evidenced by the 12 bancassurance partnerships across Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in recent years.
«This deal didn’t happen overnight,» Huynh said, adding to the list of success factors FWD’s digital capabilities and an attractive price. «[W]e’ve been pursuing this opportunity for years.»
Expansion Pipeline
FWD continues to seek expansion across various channels and markets. It is currently waiting for China to approve its application for a majority-owned insurance firm on the mainland. And though still undisclosed, FWD could be amongst the applicants that have just passed the lastest cut to make the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s 14-strong shortlist of remaining virtual bank candidates through its Razer-led consortium.
«We are in pretty robust health,» Huynh said, adding that the post-pandemic environment will prove stronger than before due to behavioral shifts. «People will be much more mindful about protection and health going forward.»

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