China Life Insurance is looking to buy a stake in a large European or North American insurer and is already in talks with several acquisition targets, the company's chairman said on Wednesday. Yang Chao, who heads China Life Group as well as its overseas-listed subsidiary, said nothing had been approved by Beijing but the government was broadly supportive of state-owned insurers investing in assets abroad, the Financial Times reported. UK insurer Prudential, which has a strong presence in China and across Asia, is seen as being of most interest to Chinese firms. Other potential targets include Aviva, another British insurer, as well as AXA and ING. Any company that did sell a strategic stake to China Life could expect to gain access to the booming Chinese market in return. Yang said the Western credit crisis meant investments in financial institutions could be made relatively cheaply.
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