Nippon Life Insurance Co. will soon become the first Japanese life insurance company to market policies in China on a full-scale basis, Nippon Life officials said Saturday.

The top Japanese insurer has reached a basic agreement with SVA Information Industry Co., China’s No. 4 electrical machinery maker, to set up a 50-50 joint life insurance venture in Shanghai by this summer, the officials said.

Nippon Life and SVA Information will soon sign a contract to establish the joint venture. They plan to apply to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission for approval in early March, the officials said.

The new company will target wealthy consumers, chiefly offering endowment insurance and other savings-type policies. The company’s president will be from Nippon Life and its chairman from SVA Information, according to the officials.

The new company will be capitalized at about 5 billion yen, the biggest for a foreign-affiliated insurer operating in China.

At present, about 20 major European and U.S. insurance groups — including American International Group, Axa SA of France, Allianz Group of Germany and ING Group of the Netherlands — are operating in China through local joint ventures.

In December 2001, Nippon Life became the first Japanese life insurer to have acquired the right to set up a jointly owned life insurance company in China. Nippon Life has since been looking for a Chinese partner to set up a joint firm.

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