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(Reuters) — Chubb Ltd. said Monday it will buy up to an additional 22.4% stake in Chinese insurer Huatai Insurance Group Co. Ltd. for 10.8 billion yuan ($1.53 billion) as it looks to bank on a rapidly growing sector in the country.
Chubb, which already holds nearly 27% stake in Huatai, said it would first buy 15.1% and then an additional 7.1% stake based on the completion of the first contingent.
The Chinese insurance market has seen fast growth in recent years, becoming an attractive market for foreign companies seeking new sources of growth and revenue.
In March, Chubb raised its stake in Huatai to 26.2%, following an approval from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, marking the first time a domestic Chinese financial services company converted to a so-called “Sino-foreign joint venture.”
Last year, Beijing set an agenda to open up its financial sector and has been taking steps to relax foreign ownership in life insurance and asset-management joint ventures.
“We are committed to supporting Huatai as a long-term strategic shareholder and we have great confidence in the long-term potential of the Chinese insurance market,” said Evan Greenberg, CEO of Chubb.
Chubb will buy Huatai shares from its shareholders, Chinese chemicals maker Inner Mongolia Junzheng Energy and Chemical Group Co. Ltd., and one of its wholly owned subsidiaries.
China's insurance regulator has approved U.S.-based insurer Chubb Ltd. petition to increase its stake in Huatai Insurance Group Co. Ltd. to 26.2% from its current holding of 20%, Verdict.co.uk reported citing sources. The approval will allow Huatai Group to become the first domestic Chinese financial services holding company to operate as a Sino-foreign equity joint venture.