Australia's biggest car and home insurer, Insurance Australia, is about to buy a 25% share in China Pacific Insurance Co's property unit, according to sources close to the deal.

The Australian insurance firm is looking to expand overseas as domestic law prevents it from expanding past its current position of holding around half of the Australian market.

China Pacific’s property unit, the second largest in China, currently commands 12% of the $13.2 billion Chinese property and auto insurance market and is believed to be valued at around $185 million, based on comparisons to other insurers in the same market.

The unnamed sources, reported by Bloomberg, suggested that the deal could be completed by the end of March.

Due to the general opening up of the Chinese economy and the subsequent significant increase in car and home ownership, the Chinese property insurance market grew 25% in 2004 to $13.17 billion.