Australian financial services firm ClearView is intent on finding a new business partner from the mid-market insurers of northeast Asia, namely those from Japan, China, or South Korea.
In late May, Morgan Stanley was tasked to raise US$50m from existing shareholders and search for a buyer for ClearView Wealth, allowing the exit of dominant private equity owner Crescent Capital Partners. Crescent has a 53% stake in an alliance with ROC Partners.
Prior to the appointment of Morgan Stanley, ClearView chairman Gary Weiss, who owns nearly 5 per cent of the company, resigned in order to free himself to assess buyout options.
According to ClearView co-founder and managing director Simon Swanson, they have ruled out selling to any of their rivals in the Australian market. Instead, they would focus on attracting insurers from Japan, China, and South Korea.
"Ideally the buyer would be someone who supports the long-term vision of the business," he said. "Clearly there are more synergies with the mid-market insurers and wealth managers from north-east Asia."
ClearView has US$8.1bn in funds under advice and US$203m of life insurance under advice. The firm has a market capitalisation of US$625m.
Last year, Nippon Life of Japan bought 80% of National Australia Bank's MLC-branded life insurance business for US$2.4bn.
However, if such a deal would happen, it is possible that ClearView would go private and delist from the Australian Securities Exchange.
"I have to do the right thing by shareholders long term. If someone fronts up with a big enough offer that makes sense, then I would vote in favour of it," Swanson said. He also expressed the desire to continue leading the company.
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