Great Eastern says 'assessing possible options relating to minority stake' in Malaysian unit

Great Eastern Holdings said that it is "assessing possible options" relating to a minority stake in its Malaysian unit to comply with the country's 70-per cent foreign ownership cap for insurance companies.
Great Eastern Holdings said that it is "assessing possible options" relating to a minority stake in its Malaysian unit to comply with the country's 70-per cent foreign ownership cap for insurance companies. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Great Eastern Holdings said in a pre-market filing on Thursday (Sept 21) that it is "assessing possible options" relating to a minority stake in its Malaysian unit to comply with the country's 70-per cent foreign ownership cap for insurance companies.

Great Eastern was responding to reports in The Straits Times and Business Times on Wednesday, quoting the Wall Street Journal, that the company had reportedly engaged at least one Malaysian bank to explore selling a stake in its operations over the Causeway for as much as US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion).

Potential buyers - not just for the GE stake but for shares in other foreign insurers facing the same issue - would likely be local institutions such as the Employees Provident Fund, Malaysia's largest state pension fund, and Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Permodalan Nasional, said the Journal.

Great Eastern, the insurance arm of OCBC, said in the filing that the assessment of the stake in Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Berhad "is preliminary at this stage and shareholders are advised that there is no certainty that any agreement will be entered into."