ERGO Insurance Group, part of Munich Re, is strengthening its presence in Asia, by setting up a new life insurance joint venture in China, as well as acquiring stake in a Vietnamese insurer.

In China, ERGO will form a JV for life insurance together with the Shandong State-owned Assets Investment Holding (SSAIH), which will have its head office in the province of Shandong about 400 km south of Beijing.

SSAIH, founded in 2005, managed capital funds equivalent to around €2bn last year and employs more than 8,000 employees.

ERGO said that the operations of the JV will start upon receiving the necessary regulatory approvals.

In this joint venture, ERGO and SSAIH will each hold a 50% share, which is primarily to provide life insurance to private customers in Shandong. ERGO will contribute its expertise in the areas of product development, sales and risk management.

ERGO Insurance Group board of management member Jochen Messemer said with its 92 million citizens, the province of Shandong is a key economic province in China and is considered to be the third largest domestic insurance market.

In Vietnam, ERGO is acquiring a 25% stake in Global Insurance Company (GIC), which specializes in non-life products, such as motor vehicle, fire and transport insurance.

GIC was established in 2006 and achieved premiums equivalent to around €11m in 2009. A further major shareholder of GIC is the state-owned energy utility EVN.

Messemer said this investment is part of strategy to become active in the highly attractive nonlife insurance markets in South-East Asia.

ERGO and GIC will formalize their partnership in Hanoi in mid-February.

ERGO is already present in over 30 countries and has a strategic focus on Central and Eastern Europe as well as selected Asian markets.