Japan's Sumitomo Life Insurance announced it would pay Yen 3.7bn (US$35.5m) for a 29% stake in a life insurance venture with state-owned PICC Holding of China. The deal gives Japan's fourth-largest life insurer its first foothold in the Chinese life insurance market. The new insurer, based in Osaka, plans to set up business this year after getting approval from local regulators, according to a statement on Sumitomo Life's web site. Sumitomo Life and other Japanese firms are looking to China and elsewhere in Asia as the focus for growth amid stagnation in the Japanese domestic insurance market and competition from overseas underwriters. PICC Property & Casualty was the first Chinese insurer to sell shares abroad and accounts for about 58% of the domestic general insurance market, worth a total of US$13.2bn.
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