China Life has been in talks with several foreign companies including Lehman Brothers and Citigroup about their taking a stake in China’s biggest life insurer, said general manager Wang Xianzhang in a report by Bloomberg. The state-owned China Life was formed in 1996 when the government split the former monopoly People’s Insurance Co of China. Its forecast premium income of Yn120bn for 2002 would give it nearly two-thirds of the life insurance market.
Other Chinese insurance firms have already sold stakes to foreign companies. In 2000, New China Life Insurance sold a 25 per cent stake to a group of foreign investors including Zurich Financial Services and Japan’s Meiji Life Insurance. Also in that year, Taiking Life Insurance sold a 10 per cent stake to Swiss firm Winterthur.