Major insurers on hunt for M&As


The chiefs of Japan’s top insurance companies are eager to keep pursuing mergers and acquisitions abroad because the domestic market is expected to shrink, interviews show.

In 2015, Nippon Life Insurance Co. bought smaller rival Mitsui Life Insurance Co. and National Australia Bank’s insurance business, but still has ¥1 trillion ($8.3 billion) to spend on further acquisitions, according to President Yoshinobu Tsutsui.

He hinted that Nippon Life is seeking M&A deals in the United States, as that “is the largest market in the world.”

And Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. President Tsuyoshi Nagano said his firm is “always looking for (M&A deals) in Asia and Latin America, including Mexico.”

Last year, Tokio Marine purchased U.S.-based HCC Insurance Holdings Inc. for around $7.5 billion, making it the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese insurer.

HCC, which operates mainly in the U.S., British and Spanish markets, is strong in specialty insurance such as director and officer liability, as well as in agriculture and aviation lines of coverage.

MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. is also “aiming for M&A deals in the United States,” whose weight in the group’s business has fallen since it moved last September to acquire Amlin PLC, a major British nonlife insurer, said Yasuyoshi Karasawa, the group’s president.

Karasawa said the planned purchase of Amlin has “placed the firm in a higher rank” globally.

“We’d like to expand our businesses in emerging markets as well and further raise our profile,” he added.

Koichiro Watanabe, president of Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., indicated that company will seek further M&A deals in the United States through midsize American life insurer Protective Life Corp., which it acquired last February. In that way, the company will not face any risk of exchange rate fluctuations in making an investment, he said.