Public Bank Berhad, MalaysiaÆs second largest bank by market capitalisation, and ING Group have formed a 10-year strategic alliance to tap long-term regional opportunities to jointly develop the bancassurance business, Takaful business and other services such as wealth management, joint promotional activities and co-branded credit card services.

The regional alliance will see Public Bank and its affiliates distributing INGÆs life, health and personal accident products on an exclusive and preferred basis throughout the Asia-Pacific region beginning January 2008. The two partners will also be exploring joint development of a Takaful business in the Asia-Pacific countries to distribute Takaful life and health insurance products.

Takaful is an Islamic insurance concept based on Islamic banking transactions, observing the rules and regulations of Islamic law.

At the local level, Public Bank and ING Insurance Berhad have signed a distribution agreement. Public Bank will exclusively distribute INGÆs insurance products through the bankÆs Malaysian multiple marketing channels of 240 nationwide branches, insurance specialists and telemarketers, to over 6 million account holders including small and medium-sized industries and corporate clients.

ING is currently the fourth largest insurer in Malaysia and having established a strong base in the traditional life insurance segment, we are looking to aggressively broaden our multichannel distribution capabilities over the next three years with growth drivers such as the bancassurance and Takaful platforms, ING Insurance Berhad president and CEO Nirmala Menon.

Meanwhile, Public Bank managing director Dato Sri Tay Ah Lek says the alliance will allow the bank to leverage on INGÆs global experience in investment management and wealth management.

ôThis is valuable to Public Bank as the bank transforms into a fully integrated financial institution, providing a wider range of financial solutions to our customers from banking, to investment and protection products and services,ö Tay says.

Regionally, Public Bank will also complement INGÆs regional footprint in 12 existing Asia-Pacific markets through its regional expansion, Tay says. The bank has already announced its branch expansions in Hong Kong and China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.