AUSTRALIA

The Insurance Council of Australia, along with the Insurance Council of New Zealand and the Financial Services Council of New Zealand, joined six other insurance bodies from around the world in issuing a joint open letter on October 16 to International Accounting Standards Board chairman Hans Hoogervorst, calling for a two-year delay on the effective date of the IFRS 17 accounting standard.

The letter writers argue that the delay is necessary to allow companies adequate time to apply the standard and deal with any implementation challenges, such as operational constraints and finalising related regulatory changes in some jurisdictions.

IFRS 17 was issued by the International Accounting Standards Board in May 2017 to replace IFRS 4, with an effective date of January 2, 2021.

Source: Insurance Europe

AMP named Cathy Doyle and Tony Brain as independent non-executive directors on the boards of AMP Superannuation and NM Superannuation Proprietary on October 16.  

AMP Superannuation Limited governs AMP’s superannuation savings trust, eligible rollover fund, and retirement trust, while NM Superannuation Proprietary governs the firm’s wealth personal superannuation and pension fund, super directions fund, national mutual pro-super fund, and national mutual retirement fund. Doyle and Brain were also appointed to the board audit committee for each of the trustee companies.

Source: AMP

HONG KONG

Hong Kong’s retirement system, listed in Mercer’s global pension index for the first time this year, has major risks and/or shortcomings to be addressed, said the investment consultancy.

Hong Kong comes 23rd on the 35-strong global list of retirement systems, but is in the bottom three in terms of adequacy of pension provision, along with Indonesia and Mexico. Australia and Singapore claim first and second spots in the ranking in Asia Pacific, with Hong Kong coming fifth.

The systems are ranked in three areas – adequacy, sustainability and integrity – with adequacy assigned the highest importance.

Source: Mercer

JAPAN

Taiyo Life Insurance intends to increase its foreign bond holdings between now and March 2019, but it intends to avoid US Treasuries, according to a senior executive. The insurer, which has about ¥7.25 trillion ($64.3 billion) in assets, also said it aims to keep trimming back on its yen-denominated bond holdings over the same period.

Between April and September this year, Taiyo Life made small purchases of French sovereign bonds, while in US dollars it bought corporate bonds, Ginnie Mae bonds from the US Government National Mortgage Association, and dollar bonds issued by Japanese state agencies, said Masanori Nakamura, general manager of investment planning department.

However the life insurer next wants to buy non-treasury US dollar debt. Nakamura said the insurer isn’t planning on Treasury purchases “because of rising hedging costs”.

Source: Reuters

Dai-Ichi Life Insurance has invested ¥300 million ($2.66 million) into a local cyborg technology startup company called Meltin MMI. It marks the insurer’s sixth impact investment, for a total of ¥2.1 billion. Dai-Ichi Life had ¥36.33 trillion in assets at the end of March.

In a statement on October 17, Dai-Ichi said its investment would “support Meltin’s activities from a financing perspective”, and added that it believed it would make high investment returns and have a societal impact. Meltin, which was established in 2013, mainly researches and develops robot technology, and is the builder of the first so-called ‘avatar’ robot.

Source: Asia Asset Management

MALAYSIA

Malaysia’s new government has reopened discussions about allowing foreign insurance companies to maintain full ownership of domestic insurers, according to a media report.

Last year, global insurers with wholly owned insurance businesses in Malaysia were told to sell 30% of their businesses to local investors, in accordance with a 2009 rule that had never been enforced.

AIA, Prudential, Chubb and eight other foreign companies have wholly owned subsidiaries in the country. Several of those foreign-based groups were planning to take on joint venture partners or spin off parts of their business in an initial public offering to meet the requirements.

Source: Financial Times

SINGAPORE

Temasek has purchased Israeli cybersecurity firm Sygnia, subject to regulatory approval, according to a media report.

The start-up will maintain its operational independence while collaborating with Temasek and its portfolio companies.

Financial details about the acquisition were not disclosed.

Sygnia works with companies worldwide to build their cyber resilience and defeat attacks within their networks.

Source: Sygnia, Reuters

Sovereign wealth fund GIC has agreed to acquire Tour Ariane, a 40-storey office tower with a gross lettable area of 64,500 square metres for around €465 million ($534 million), from Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

Located in the heart of the La Défense business district in Paris, Tour Ariane is within walking distance from two main transport hubs and multiple amenities. Its accessibility and connectivity will further benefit from the Grand Paris project, which will reduce connection times to major airports and train stations.

The asset will be managed by Baumont Real Estate Capital. The transaction is subject to close in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In another development, GIC also acquired a minority stake in Nordic Aviation Capital, which is the world’s largest regional aircraft lessor.

Source: GIC

INTERNATIONAL 

Chinese Insurance Investment Co, Swiss Re and Temasek Holdings have all discussed investing in embattled Beijing-based insurer Anbang, according to media reports. 

Since the Chinese government temporarily seized acquisitive insurer Anbang and sentenced its chairman to prison in February, officials have been seeking strategic investors to take stakes in the group. 

Anbang, China Insurance Investment (a body owned by some of the country’s biggest insurers), Zurich-based Swiss Re and Singapore state investment firm Temasek declined to comment, said the reports.  

Sources: Bloomberg and Deal Street Asia

Investors have been dumping shares of listed fund houses over concerns about the unwinding of quantitative easing and the potential end of the bull market, and a trend towards consolidation amid intense pressure for them to cut fees.

Many of the world’s largest listed asset managers, such as Invesco, Janus Henderson, Standard Life Aberdeen and Franklin Templeton, have suffered share price falls of at least 30% this year, despite markets hitting new highs in many countries.