Japan's Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. has agreed to buy U.S. peer Protective Life for $5.7 billion, the largest acquisition by a Japanese insurer, displaying its determination to grow overseas to counter weak prospects at home.
Dai-ichi Life, Japan's second-largest private-sector life insurer, said it will issue up to 250 billion yen ($2.4 billion) in new shares to help finance the widely expected purchase of Protective Life. The Japanese insurer will retain existing management at the Birmingham, Alabama-based target, which booked premiums and policy fees of $2.98 billion and net income of $393 million in 2013.
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Faced with weak growth prospects at home amid Japan's ageing population, Dai-ichi Life and other Japanese insurers have been buying assets in more dynamic markets from the United States to Southeast Asia. While the U.S. insurance market is the world's biggest, demand for insurance policies in Southeast Asia is expected to rise among the region's emerging middle class.