Zurich Life Singapore agrees to sell its run-off city-state biz to newly-authorised Singapore Life

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Zurich Life Insurance (Singapore) said on Monday that it will sell its remaining Singapore life insurance portfolio to Singapore Life Pte, which calls itself “Singapore’s newest life insurer”, and which only received its insurance licence to operate in the jurisdiction in June.

The price Singapore Life is paying for the portfolio and other financial details of the transaction weren’t given. The deal is expected to close by the middle of this year.

In a statement, Zurich Life Singapore said its portfolio currently comprises “approximately 5,000 policies” and that it has been in run-off since December 2015, when Zurich ceased accepting new business.

The agreement, Zurich added in its statement, “does not affect the branch operations or businesses of Zurich International Life Ltd or Zurich Insurance Company Ltd in any way”.

“This decision is in line with Zurich’s strategy to optimize its portfolio and geographical footprint, and follows an extensive process to ensure that existing policyholder terms and conditions are safeguarded,”  Zurich Life Singapore chief executive David Kneale said.

Singapore Life was founded last year by Walter de Oude, its CEO, whose former roles have included chief executive of HSBC Insurance (Singapore), and a former member of HSBC Asset Management Singapore’s board.

Said to be the first local insurer – that is, with no foreign partners – to be licensed by the Singaporean regulator, it calls itself an “insurtech” company that is looking to use technology “to provide a better insurance experience”.

In June, de Oude told Singapore’s Straits Times that Singapore Life “aims to…[leverage] fintech solutions to empower people to take control of their financial future”.

In April, the Straits Times article noted, Singapore Life raised S$69m (US$50m) – “the largest ever by a Singapore-based insurtech company” – in a series A funding round, drawing support from such entities as Credit China FinTech Holdings and IPGL, while “partnering” re-insurers Munich Re  and Pacific Life Re.

As reported, Zurich Life Singapore was among several Singaporean life insurers reportedly hard hit in 2015 when Manulife launched a major advisory business in Singapore, and, according to press reports at the time, began poaching staff from the city-state’s major insurers.

A few months later, Zurich’s Singapore tied agency business was taken over by the Dubai-based Nexus Group, which had said that it viewed Singapore as the region’s financial hub, although it has plans to open other Asian outposts as well.

The arrangement was described by Zurich Life Singapore at the time as a “strategic initiative… made in tandem with local market trends and developments, to ensure that Zurich is continually aligning itself to best meet the needs of its customers, distributors and the local Singapore market”.