Japan insurer eyes $6.2b buyout of US firm: report

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's Dai-ichi Life Insurance said Monday it was considering buying a US firm with reports saying it was eyeing a nearly US$5 billion (S$6.2 billion) takeover of Protective Life.

The leading Nikkei economic daily and other Japanese media reported that the third-biggest Japanese life insurer was preparing to acquire the mid-sized firm based in the southern US state of Alabama.

The purchase price would exceed 500 billion yen (S$6.2 billion), the reports said, in what would be the latest move by a Japanese firm to buy overseas assets to counter a declining market at home.

If completed, the deal would be the largest-ever acquisition of a foreign firm by a Japanese insurer, eclipsing a US$4.7 billion takeover of US insurer Philadelphia Consolidated by Tokio Marine in 2008.

Dai-ichi's Tokyo-listed shares fell 4.11 per cent to 1,446 yen Monday morning after it announced it was mulling the acquisition of a company which it did not name.

"It is true that we are considering purchasing a US life insurance company but no decision has been made at the moment," the company said in a statement.

Dai-ichi is looking to broaden its overseas business beyond Asia by entering the world's biggest market for insurance sold to consumers, the Nikkei said.

Final talks on price and other terms will begin early this week and they two sides could reach a basic agreement by the end of the week, it added.

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