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France's top bank buys into insurance joint venture with Bank of Beijing
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

BNP Paribas, France's top listed bank, agreed to acquire a 50 percent stake held by Dutch bank ING in its life insurance joint venture with the Bank of Beijing, according to a BNP statement.

The acquisition marks the French lender's first step into the Chinese insurance market. The new joint venture will be equally owned by BNP and the Chinese lender.

Eric Lombard, chairman and chief executive officer of BNP Paribas Cardif, the insurance branch of the French financial group, said: "BNP Paribas Cardif generated 3.8 billion euros (US$4.9 billion) in gross written premiums in Asia in 2012, an increase of 25 percent over the previous year. We are delighted with this partnership with Bank of Beijing, which marks a major new stage in BNP Paribas Cardif's international expansion."

Xavier Guilmineau, chief executive officer of the French insurance company for Asia, added: "Entering the Chinese market is a key step of our development. This fast-growing market offers numerous development opportunities in life insurance. The BNP Paribas Cardif's expertise coupled with the quality of the Bank of Beijing brand will strengthen our position in this key region for our development."

The acquisition is the French lender's latest move to step up investment in the world's second-biggest economy.

BNP raised its stake in Bank of Nanjing from 15 to 20 percent in December, the maximum amount a foreign bank can hold of a Chinese lender.

BNP also has a partnership with Chinese brokerage firm Haitong Securities Co in asset management, according to the statement.

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