HSBC to sell Singapore insurance businesses to AXA Life Insurance

HONG KONG (AFP) - Global banking giant HSBC said on Wednesday it would sell its insurance businesses in Singapore in a deal valued at around US$19.3 million (S$23.9 million), as part of its plan to cut costs by offloading non-core assets.

HSBC said its insurance unit in the city-state agreed to sell the life insurance and medical insurance portfolios to AXA Life Insurance Singapore, the country's No. 2 general insurer by revenue, according to AXA. The transaction is expected to be completed within this year.

"The sale... represents further progress in the execution of the group's strategy," the London-based but Asia-focused lender said in a statement.

HSBC has been streamlining its global operations to slash costs, after the bank said in 2011 that it aimed to save up to US$3.5 billion by this year and to axe 30,000 jobs globally.

The bank said last month that its net profit last year sank 16.5 per cent, after it was hit by money-laundering fines in the United States, mis-selling scandals, rising taxation and a huge accounting charge.

China in February approved the British bank's sale of its stake in insurance giant Ping An, the nation's second largest life insurer, for US$9.4 billion to a Thai conglomerate.