KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 21): Singapore-listed Great Eastern Holdings Ltd (GEH) said it is "assessing possible options" relating to a minority stake in Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd to comply with foreign ownership requirements.
However, the assessment is in its preliminary stage, GEH said in its statement today, adding that there is no certainty that any agreement will be entered into.
"Shareholders of GEH are advised to refrain from taking any action in respect of their shares in GEH which may be prejudicial to their interests, and to exercise caution when dealing in the shares of GEH," the insurer said.
"In the event that shareholders wish to deal in the shares of GEH, they should seek their own professional advice and consult with their own stockbrokers," it added.
GEH's announcement follows news reports that the group intends to sell its stake in its Malaysian operations for as much as US$1 billion and that it has engaged at least one Malaysian bank for the potential deal.
GEH is reportedly not the only insurer to consider such an exercise. British life insurer Prudential plc and Japan's Tokio Marine Holdings were also said to be in negotiations to sell almost a third of their stakes in their Malaysian subsidiaries, by way of strategic stake sales or initial public offerings in the country.
This purported consideration by foreign insurers is seen as an effort to meet Bank Negara Malaysia's June 2018 deadline to comply with its mandate of 30% local ownership, aimed to increase local participation in the sector.