British insurer RSA to sell Asia unit in up to $500 million deal: sources – Reuters

A sign of RSA insurance company is pictured outside its office in London

 

A sign of RSA insurance company is pictured outside its office in London December 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

(Reuters) – RSA Insurance Group Ltd (RSA.L), Britain’s largest non-life insurer, is looking to sell its Asian operations in an auction that could fetch up to $500 million and draw a wide range of suitors, people familiar with the sale process told Reuters.

The sale is part of a group-wide restructuring led by new Chief Executive Stephen Hester, after losses caused by extreme weather and accounting irregularities at its Irish division hit its finances and prompted the departure of several senior executives.

Insurers considering bids include Sompo Japan Insurance, a unit of NKSJ Holdings Inc (8630.T) as well as France’s AXA (AXAF.PA), the people said. Australia’s QBE Insurance Group Ltd (QBE.AX) and German insurer Allianz SE (ALVG.DE) are also weighing their options, they added.

RSA, which is being advised by Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N), is expected to kick off the sale process in the coming weeks, one of the people said.

RSA declined to comment, as did AXA, Allianz, QBE and Sompo Japan. AXA said it takes an extremely disciplined approach to examining acquisition opportunities but did not specifically reference RSA. Goldman Sachs also declined to comment.

Best known in Britain for its More Than home and motor insurance brand, RSA joins a long list of global insurers to retreat or scale back Asian operations. Aviva (AV.L), ING Groep (ING.AS), American International Group (AIG.N) and New York Life are among prominent insurers that have cut down their Asia exposure since the global financial crisis. At the same, some well-capitalized Asian companies, including AIA Group Ltd (1299.HK) and Canadian insurers Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) and Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO) have snapped up businesses sold by the retreating insurers.

RSA RESTRUCTURING

In Asia, RSA has businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore, China and India but those operations contributed less than 2 percent to net premiums in the first quarter of 2014. That has encouraged the company to focus on core markets, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandinavia.

Net earned premiums from Asia fell 7 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 38 million pounds ($64 million). RSA had total net earned premiums of 1.9 billion pounds, according to company filings.

As part of its turnaround, RSA is seeking to raise $2.7 billion in capital, about half of which will come from the sale of non-core operations and money saved from scrapping its dividend, with the rest coming from a rights issue that wrapped up in April.

Asset sales so far include the sale of its Baltics and Poland units.

RSA shares have risen 19.3 percent year to date, broadly in-line with the performance of FTSE 100 Index .FTSE.

($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Additional reporting by Taiga Uranaka in Tokyo, Byron Kaye in Sydney and Christopher Vellacott in London; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Telenor axes Asia chief over FB row – Bangkok Post
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 10:39 AM

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Adobe to ‘unlock creative’ in Asia with enterprise strategy push – ZDNet
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 8:36 AM

Adobe’s two lines of cloud businesses, Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud, have been the key drivers for the company’s growth in Australia, according to newly-appointed Adobe Asia Pacific president Paul Robson, who expects to extend this success to other parts of the Asia Pacific region.

Robson said since Adobe transitioned its software to the cloud, Creative Cloud has seen a strong growth in subscriptions across Australia and New Zealand, particularly when the switch from a perpetual licensing model to a subscription-based one was made.

“Since we’ve launched, about 98 percent of our customers are choosing to purchase Creative Cloud and that talks to the benefits of not just having licensing of the technology, but also the services and support that goes around the Creative Cloud technology stack,” he said.

Robson also noted Adobe’s Marketing Cloud has helped the company established “deep engagements” with local organisations, including Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank, as they work through their digital transformations. Marketing Cloud is a six tier technology stack made up of Adobe Analytics, Target, Social, Media Optimiser, Campaign, and Experience Manager.

“The Australian market is a very mature market that is focused on digital transformations, so we have conversations with companies around mobility, attribution, personalisation, and how digital can drive change in an organisation, and enhance their engagement with their customers,” he said.

The move to the cloud by Adobe forms part of the company’s enterprise engagement strategy, which Robson said he hopes to be able to take it countries in Asia to drive a “deeper, more strategic relationship and engagement with customers in enterprise and government”.

“The Australian market for us was the first market in the region where we drove a heavy enterprise strategy,” he said.

“If you think about the pace of change businesses have gone through in Australia, which is the largest market for us in Asia, my first priority is to take a lot of those learnings and those experiences and execute the same strategy in other markets.

“Adobe is unique because Australia is the large market outside of Japan in the Asia region, but obviously we have significant opportunities in South East Asia, India, and Korea, as well as China and Hong Kong.”

There also plans to “unlock creative” in businesses in the Asia region to encourage more “efficient and productive workflow”.

“We’re still seeing a very heavy focus from organisations around what is the best way to unlock creative in their business,” he said.

“For many, Adobe supports staff with creative technology, with products like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, so enterprise companies can engage with their advertising agency in a digital format and to share files.”

Adobe is one out of a handful of tech companies that have been criticised in the past for charging Australian consumers a higher premium than US consumers. Adobe managing director for Australia and New Zealand Paul Robson previously told Australia’s IT pricing inquiry that the price difference is to provide a “personalised experience” to users, and it’s a way to track the company’s revenue within the region.

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