Samsung Life, South Korea’s largest life insurer, said it was aiming to go public in the first half of next year and planning to pick lead managers in December.
The company would be joining a series of planned insurance offerings in Asia estimated to represent as much as $20 billion over the next three years.
The Asian insurance IPO candidate list includes AIG’s AIA, Shanghai-traded China Pacific Insurance, which aims to raise $3.5 billion in Hong Kong, Reliance Life in India and Japan’s Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance.
“If the process goes through smoothly, an IPO could be possible within 6 or 7 months,” said Cho Tae-hyun, a spokesman for Samsung Life. He added that no decisions had yet been made regarding the size of the offering.
Tong Yang Life Insurance became South Korea’s first listed life insurer in September. It priced its IPO at 17,000 won, the bottom of its indicated range, and was trading at 14,700 won as of midday Monday.
South Korea’s 73 trillion won ($63.29 billion) life insurance landscape by premium income is divided between three market leaders – Samsung Life, Korea Life and Kyobo Life – and 19 smaller companies such as Tong Yang, Kumho and Mirae Asset.
Korea Life Insurance Co, the country’s No. 2 life insurer, is expected to raise around $2 billion in 2010, in what would so far be Korea’s largest IPO since 2006. It has mandated six banks, including Credit Suisse, JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank, to arrange the IPO.
In 2005, U.S. buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) was reported to be eyeing a stake in Samsung Life, but no deal was signed.