In a move to shed a non-core division and raise up to $500 million in the bid

In order to shed a non-core division and raise up to $500 million, United Overseas Bank (UOB) of Singapore has announced that it is selling its life insurance unit – reported Reuters.

The move highlights the interest of western firms looking to tap Asia’s growing personal wealth.

According to the company, HSBC is acting as an advisor regarding the sale of the business, known as UOB Life Assurance. The company claims that Prudential is one of the bidders, with first round bids arriving a few weeks ago. Manulife Financial Corporation is also keen in UOB Life.

The bidding has come at a time when global insurance companies are seeking to expand their networks in regions such as Asia. The sale of American International Group’s various insurance units in the region this year has attracted bidders from both Asia and abroad.

Reportedly UOB initiated the auction of its life insurance business late last year, and pulled the auction when the global economy was melting.

UOB Life, a wholly-owned subsidiary, was incorporated in Singapore in 1990, and had more than S$2 billion ($1.4 billion) in assets as of November 2008. Great Eastern is an insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia, dwarfing UOB Life with S$45 billion in assets and 3.8 million policyholders in both countries, quoted the news agency.