Macquarie to sell life insurance arm

Macquarie Group has announced it has entered into an agreement to sell its life insurance business to Zurich Australia Limited.

The transaction is subject to regulatory and court approvals, and is expected to be completed in the second half of the 2016 calendar year. Macquarie Life's Australia-based staff will transfer to Zurich as part of the acquisition.

Greg Ward, head of Macquarie's banking and financial services division, said: "Macquarie Life is a well performing business and has been recognised by the industry for its innovation and commitment to customer service. The sale of the business reflects the need for significant scale in the capital-intensive life insurance industry in order to drive appropriate returns.

"Zurich's expertise, global reach and customer focus mean they are ideally positioned to continue providing high-quality insurance products and services to Macquarie Life customers," Mr Ward said.

Following completion of the transaction, Macquarie Life policyholders will become customers of Zurich, which will honour all obligations under new and existing policies.

The terms of this transaction are confidential and not material to Macquarie Group.

Colin Morgan, Zurich's chief executive of Asia-Pacific Global Life, said the acquisition will accelerate Zurich's growth strategy.

"Our Australian life business has experienced strong growth – over the last five years in particular – and is a major contributor to the strength and profitability of Zurich's Asia-Pacific regional Global Life business," he said.

"Our growth ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region are underpinned by a strategy which drives value from our balanced portfolio of growth and mature markets and leverages our distinctive capabilities across the region.

"This acquisition accelerates that strategy," he said.

Meanwhile, Zurich's CEO of life and investments in Australia, Tim Bailey, said Macquarie Life is a "highly regarded" business with a strong brand.

"The acquisition is consistent with our long-term strategic intent in terms of our Australian market presence and our overall proposition as an innovative, customer-focused life insurer," Mr Bailey said.

"The acquisition will enhance both our scale and overall capability and will allow us to further strengthen the proposition which has been a key driver of our recent growth trajectory."

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