DBS nearing US$1 billion deal to sell Manulife insurance in Asia, WSJ says

SINGAPORE (Bloomberg) - Canada's Manulife Financial Corp is nearing a deal worth more than US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) to sell insurance through the Asian network of Singaporean lender DBS Group Holdings, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unidentified person.

The multi-year agreement, likely to be signed on Wednesday night, will see Manulife make payments to DBS over the life of the contract, the newspaper reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.

As insurers try to expand quickly in Asia, banks are benefiting from selling exclusive access to their networks, the newspaper said.

At DBS in Singapore, spokeswoman Edna Koh declined to comment. Calls and e-mails to Manulife spokespeople in the city were not immediately answered.

A deal between DBS and Manulife may be the last major pan-Asia bancassurance deal, said WSJ.

Prudential last year renewed a distribution partnership with Standard Chartered. That followed AIA Group and Citigroup inking a multi-billion-dollar deal for AIA to distribute its insurance products through Citigroup's Asian-Pacific retail branch network in late 2013.

UK insurer Aviva previously sold its products via the DBS network but the contract between Aviva and DBS was not renewed.

In a bancassurance deal, insurance products are distributed through a bank's branch network rather than through individual insurance agents.