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Shinhan acquires BNP Paribas’ non-life-insurance unit

A man walks past the headquarters of Shinhan Financial Group in Seoul. (Yonhap)
A man walks past the headquarters of Shinhan Financial Group in Seoul. (Yonhap)
Shinhan Financial Group said Monday that it has signed a deal to acquire BNP Paribas Cardif’s non-life-insurance subsidiary in South Korea in a bid to diversify its business portfolio to include the digital insurance sector.

Through the share purchase agreement inked Friday, the Korean banking group will hold a 94.54 percent stake in BNP Paribas Cardif General Insurance, a firm that BNP Paribas Cardif and Shinhan Life jointly established in 2014. The transaction price was not disclosed, but Shinhan reportedly agreed to pay about 40 billion won ($34 million).

“With this acquisition of a non-life-insurance company, we plan to complete our business portfolio as a comprehensive financial group and provide new customer services through synergy between group subsidies based on abundant customer data collected from online and offline channels,” Shinhan said in a statement.

During the seven years since its inception, BNP Paribas Cardif General Insurance has struggled to expand its presence despite its push to increase its market share in various areas within the insurance field, including driver insurance coverage.

The non-life-insurance company, with assets of 18.4 billion won and liabilities of 48 billion won, posted a net loss of 5.4 billion won in the first half of this year. It has fewer than 100 employees, making it the smallest non-life insurer in the country.

Shinhan Financial Group has 16 affiliates, ranging from banks and credit card firms to brokerage houses and alternative investment management firms. The general insurance market was the only thing missing from its portfolio.

BNP Paribas Cardif General Insurance was an attractive acquisition target because Cardif holds a non-life-insurance business license. Currently, the financial authorities are no longer issuing such licenses due to intensifying competition in the industry.

“We will introduce an unprecedented digital non-life-insurance company via various forms of collaboration with digital startups and others in addition to further solidifying the current business area,” it said.

This is the latest move by the group to bolster its footing in the insurance sector.

The financial group merged its life insurance unit, Shinhan Life, with Orange Life Insurance in July. Shinhan Financial Group acquired ING Life Korea, Korea’s No. 5 life insurer, in 2018 and then rebranded it as Orange Life Insurance.

By Park Han-na (