Report: Blackstone, KKR and Temasek in running for Chinese insurer

The private equity majors and sovereign wealth fund are reportedly among the first round bidders for AXA’s majority stake in Taikang Life, which is valued at $1.05bn.

The Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings are among the firms expected to submit a bid for AXA’s 15.6 percent stake in Chinese insurer Taikang Life, sources have told Reuters.

AXA, Blackstone, Temasek and Taikang Life did not reply to requests for comments at press time. KKR declined to comment.

The stake is worth $1.05 billion, valuing the company at $28.12 billion, the sources reportedly told the news agency. The first round of bids is expected to be submitted by this Friday, with AXA aiming to close the deal before the end of the year, they added.

AXA acquired the stake in China’s fourth largest insurance company as part of its acquisition of Swiss insurer Winterthur in 2006. According to Reuters, the French insurer is currently Taikang Life’s largest stakeholder. Chen Dongsheng, chairman and chief executive, and his partners hold a 14 percent interest in the company. Other stakeholders include state-backed enterprises CITIC Group, Sinopec and Singapore’s Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, which hold a stake of 8 percent, the report noted. 

Other private equity firms to which have invested in Chinese insurance companies, include The Carlyle Group, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia and HSBC Private Equity Asia. In July, Shanghai-listed China Pacific Insurance, in which Carlyle has a 17 percent stake, re-launched plans to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

In 1994, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia invested $35 million in Ping An Insurance, China’s second largest insurer. It turned out to be one of the most successful private equity deals in China as MSPE Asia made a 14-fold return through a partial sale of its stake at the time of Ping An’s initial public offering in 2004, and a subsequent sale of its remaining stake in 2005. HSBC Private Equity Asia presently holds a 16.8 percent stake in Ping An.