Southern Bank Berhad, one of Malaysia's ten anchor banks, has won a bid to buy Singaporean life and general insurance group Asia General Holdings for SGD918.8 million (about $550.6 million).

According to Malaysian press sources, Southern Bank Berhad (SBB) proffered a bid of SGD12.25 per share for the insurer, approximately 1.4 times its net asset value. The purchase is subject to central bank approvals in the two countries.

SBB’s winning offer beat that of rival Public Bank, which had made a direct bid for a 75% stake in Asia General’s life insurance unit, Asia Life Assurance Society.

SBB chief executive Tan Sri Tan Teong Hean reportedly said the purchase paves the way and adds strength to the group in bancassurance in both Malaysia and the outlying region.

Founded in 1948, Asia General has operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and China, with assets worth about SGD2.84 billion.