Tokio Marine & Nippon Fire Insurance Co. plans to buy a full stake in Asia General Holdings Ltd., a Singapore-based insurance business holding company, in a bid to expand operations in the Southeast Asian market, company sources said Wednesday.

The acquisition, estimated to cost up to 50 billion yen, will be the biggest ever by a company in the Millea Holdings Inc. group, to which Tokio Marine belongs, they said.

Asia General group companies include life and nonlife insurers in Singapore and Malaysia.

The acquisition, to take place by the end of March 2007, will help Tokio Marine expand its nonlife business in Singapore and Malaysia and make it the first Japanese company to enter into the life insurance business in the two markets.

Tokio Marine is likely to focus on selling endowment insurance policies for the time being, they said.

The Millea group bought a Brazilian insurer in 2005 for about 45 billion yen.

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