FWD hires Boon-Kee Tan to spearhead M&A drive

Tan will help build FWD, the insurance arm of Richard Li’s Pacific Century Group, into a regional platform.

FWD Group said on Tuesday that it has hired Boon-Kee Tan as its group chief business officer. This is a new role as the insurer pushes to become a regional player.

Founded in 2013, the Hong Kong-based insurer, which is owned by tycoon Richard Li, continues to make strides as it builds out its platform.

"FWD is crafting a business with a footprint across growth markets that will ultimately look very similar to [Hong Kong-based] AIA," said one person familiar with its plans. 

On October 23, FWD agreed to acquire Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s 80% interest in Indonesian life insurance business PT Commonwealth Life for around $302 million. Concurrently, FWD is set to buy the remaining 20% stake from the local shareholder and enter into a 15-year life insurance distribution partnership with the Australian bank pending regulators' approval.

In Malaysia, FWD said it had completed the acquisition of HSBC’s 49% stake in its joint venture HSBC Amanah Takaful on March 25. In China, the firm has applied to open a joint venture based in Shanghai. 

FWD signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank in March to potentially buy its insurance business, SCB Life Assurance, the country's fifth largest life insurer. The deal could include a bancassurance tie-up.

FWD also worked on a small bolt-on acquisition of an asset in Japan to add to its existing platform in the world's second-largest insurance market, people familiar with the matter said.

Tan actually joined FWD in February as a senior M&A adviser and it took some time to gather all the regulatory approvals to name her group chief business officer. 

Huynh Thanh Phong, FWD’s group chief executive officer, said in a statement that Tan’s “extensive relationship network and deep experience in the Asian financial services sector that will prove invaluable to FWD as we continue to grow our footprint and pursue our strategic ambitions”.

FWD already spans Hong Kong & Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia, offering life and medical insurance, general insurance, employee benefits, Shariah and family Takaful products across a number of its markets.

Tan has more than 18 years of experience in the financial services sector across Asia Pacific. 

Deutsche Bank appointed Tan as head of its Asia-Pacific financial institutions group in 2016 based in Singapore, she left the German bank in August last year. Tan was in the deal team that advised Ant Financial on its fundraising last year.  

Before joining Deutsche Bank in 2013, Tan was a managing director at Goldman Sachs where she covered financial institutions in Southeast Asia.


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