The Globe and Mail reports in its Thursday edition that two of Canada's top insurers have zeroed in on Asia as key to their growth, and may be ready to shell out more than $2-billion (U.S.) to boost their presence there. The Globe's Jeffrey Jones writes that Sun Life and Manulife are listed among about a half dozen interested bidders for the Singapore and Vietnam operations of Aviva PLC. The assets being auctioned by Britain's Aviva could be worth $2-billion (U.S.) to $2.5-billion (U.S.), Reuters has reported. Other interested players are said to include Allianz SE of Germany and Japan's Nippon Life Insurance and MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings. For the Canadian players, Asia's favourable demographics are a key draw. Several countries there are experiencing rapid population growth and a burgeoning middle class, creating a fertile environment for selling insurance policies and offering group benefits. Asia also offers some insulation from the West's interest-rate risks; fluctuations in rates can mean big swings in insurers' profitability, because of their large investments in interest sensitive securities, such as bonds. Sun Life's shares are up 31 per cent this year; it boasts a market cap of $35-billion (Canadian).
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