Prudential Insurance Company of America (PICA) and Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) have agreed to acquire 100% of Uni.Asia Life Assurance’s (UAL) issued and paid-up ordinary share capital, to boost their insurance operation in Malaysia.

UAL is controlled by Uni.Asia Capital (UAC), a joint venture (JV) firm, in which 51% stake is owned by DRB-HICOM, while rest 49% is vested with United Overseas Bank (Malaysia).

Commenting on the agreement, Prudential senior vice president and international insurance group executive Timothy Feige said that Malaysia is an attractive market, with long-term growth potential, low life insurance penetration and a well-developed regulatory environment.

"This transaction is aligned with our strategy to build upon our success in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and expand our footprint in the growth markets of Asia through our regional office in Singapore, led by Jan van den Berg," Feige added.

PICA and BSN, who have filed an application of the proposed transaction to Malaysian life insurance regulator, known as Bank Negara Malaysia, agreed to pay RM518m (nearly $160m) in cash for the UAL shares.

Post transaction, both acquirers will set up a new JV, in which PICA will control 70% stake, while remaining 30% shareholding will be held by BSN.

After completion of the acquisition, which is likely to conclude by the end of 2013, UAL will ink a strategic, long-term bancassurance agreement with BSN to distribute its conventional life insurance products through BSN’s banking network in Malaysia.

Serving 8.22 million customers, BSN manages 397 branch offices, 3,593 registered banking agents (Ejen Bank Berdaftar), and had total assets more than RM26.82bn, as of March 2013.

Mid-sized life insurer, UAL mainly distributes its products through agencies serving affluent and emerging affluent individuals and families, as well as through Bancassurance and Posassurance serving the mass market.