Aviva goes back to Asia as non-compete period ends

AVIVA, the UK's second-biggest insurer, is to re-enter the Asian general insurance market five years after selling its non-life operations there, writes Perry Gourley.

The company's move into Singapore comes after its larger rival Prudential made a 22 billion bid for the Asian operations of bailed out US insurer AIG.

Simon Machel, chief executive of Aviva Asia Pacific, said: "Our entry into Singapore marks the first step in our plan to penetrate the rapidly expanding general insurance market in Asia."

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European and US insurers are keen to expand their presence in Asia, seen as one of the world's fastest-growing financial services markets.

Aviva quit the Asian general insurance market in 2005 when it sold its non-life operations in the region to Japan's Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance for $450 million (293m).

Aviva's decision to launch a new Asian general insurance business comes after a non-compete agreement with Mitsui Sumitomo expired earlier this year.

Machel declined to name the next countries the firm would expand into.

When Pru's AIG deal is complete it will treble its customer base in the region to some 30 million.