FWD to exit group medical insurance business here

FWD Group entered the Singapore market in April 2016 by acquiring a 90 per cent stake in group medical insurance provider Shenton Insurance from Parkway Holdings. FWD is owned by Mr Richard Li, a son of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.
FWD Group entered the Singapore market in April 2016 by acquiring a 90 per cent stake in group medical insurance provider Shenton Insurance from Parkway Holdings. FWD is owned by Mr Richard Li, a son of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Insurer to wind down employee benefits division by next December, less than 4 years after entering S'pore market

Asian insurer FWD Group is exiting its group medical insurance business in Singapore, less than four years after setting up shop here.

The company - owned by Mr Richard Li, a son of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing - said it will wind down its employee benefits division by December next year.

It will no longer pitch for new contracts for that business, which mostly covers group medical insurance, and will not renew existing contracts when they expire, said a company spokesman.

Its website states that it is the fifth largest group medical insurer here, providing services to more than 80,000 from a range of companies.

The spokesman told The Straits Times that its clients were informed of this move last month. He said he is unable to comment on what will happen to the staff working in this unit as the company is still in discussion with them. The company's website said it has more than 200 employees here.

"FWD Singapore has made a business decision to focus on and allocate more investment and resources to other lines of business that support stronger future growth in the market, including our leading fully direct and online life and general insurance business," said the spokesman in a written reply.

ST understands that FWD entered the Singapore market in 2016 with a composite licence that allows it to operate both the employee benefits business as well as the life and general insurance arm.

The status of its licence will remain unchanged despite the move.

In July, Reuters reported that FWD is looking to enter the Chinese market after building up a presence in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam through a slew of acquisitions worth more than US$6 billion (S$8.2 billion) in the past six years.

FOCUS ON OTHER LINES OF BUSINESS

FWD Singapore has made a business decision to focus on and allocate more investment and resources to other lines of business that support stronger future growth in the market, including our leading fully direct and online life and general insurance business.

AN FWD SPOKESMAN, on the company's exit from its group medical insurance business in Singapore.

It entered the Singapore market in April 2016 by acquiring a 90 per cent stake in group medical insurance provider Shenton Insurance from Parkway Holdings.

FWD's spokesman told ST that the firm will focus on its direct-to-consumer business, providing life and general insurance products. These include car, travel, maid, home and term life insurance.

Reuters said the minority shareholders in FWD include Swiss Re with a 12.3 per cent stake, Singapore wealth fund GIC, and Chinese private equity firm Hopu Investments.

FWD is still a relatively small player in the region compared with giants such as AIA and Prudential.

Its website states that it has 5.5 million customers and US$33.8 billion in assets, compared with US$256 billion for AIA.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2019, with the headline 'FWD to exit group medical insurance business here'. Print Edition | Subscribe