US-based life insurer MetLife has agreed to acquire nearly half of stake in AmLife Insurance Berhad (AmLife) and AmFamily Takaful Berhad (AmTakaful) from Malaysia's AMMB Holdings, for RM812m ($249m), as part of its strategy to expand its reach in Malaysia.


Under the terms of the propose agreement, MetLife will buy 51% stake and 49% stake in AmLife and AmTakaful, while the remaining part will be owned by AMMB.

Furthermore, the underwriter has also entered into a twenty-year bancassurance and bancatakaful agreements, whereby AMMB’s banking subsidiaries, AmBank (M) Berhad and AmIslamic Bank Berhad, will distribute life insurance and family takaful products in Malaysia.

AmLife, which started operations 1973, distributes protection, savings and investment-linked products through agency, bank, and group channels. AmTakaful launched operations in January 2012 and offers Shariah-compliant products.

MetLife Asia president Christopher Townsend said, "Our proposed transaction advances MetLife’s strategy to capitalize on growth opportunities in emerging markets, and further expands our footprint into fast growing and profitable South East Asia insurance markets."

MetLife designated markets and health Asia head Dato’ Dr. Nirmala Menon said that Malaysia is a very attractive market, with low insurance penetration and a rapidly expanding middle class.

Menon further added "AMMB’s customers will benefit from access to MetLife’s global expertise, financial strength and innovative products and services, while MetLife will benefit from AMMB’s distribution network, and brand strength in the market place."

The proposed transaction follows recent announcements by MetLife about the formation of a joint venture (JV) with Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam and opening of a Representative Office in Myanmar.

Image: MetLife building at 200 Park Ave in New York City, the company’s corporate headquarters. Photo courtesy of Postdlf.