Two Thai non-life insurance providers, Phatra Insurance and Muang Thai Insurance, are reportedly set to merge, in a bid to become a leading player in the field and boost competition in Thailand's insurance market.

As part of the move, Phatra Insurance will acquire the non-life insurance joint venture between Fortis and Muang Thai, which will be merged into Phatra Insurance’s operations. The merger is expected to complete in March 2008, and will create the seventh largest non-life insurance group in Thailand, according to Reuters.

Our market share will rise to 3%, or seventh ranked, after the merger. We will try to make it to the top five within next year, said Muang Thai president Nualphan Lamsam, cited in Reuters.

Both companies involved are partially-owned by the Lamsam family, with a 40% holding in Phatra Insurance and a 50% shareholding in Muang Thai. Following the merger, the Lamsam family will own a 40% stake in the new company, while Kasikornbank will hold 7%, Fortis 11% to 13%, retail investors 25% and other investors 15%, reported the Bangkok Post.

The combined entity will trade on Thailand’s stock exchange.