British insurance firm to enter India via Australia

June 17th, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 17 (IANS) This harbour city of Australia will be the launch pad for British private health insurer Bupa’s expansion into India and China. Bupa Australia, which recently acquired Australia’s MBF for Australian $2.4 billion ($2.25 billion), has split its global operations into European and Asia-Pacific arms, with the latter to be headquartered in Sydney.

Bupa’s newly appointed managing director for Asia-Pacific, Dean Holden, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Sydney would become the hub of the group’s expansion across the region, especially into the two largest and fastest growing economies of Asia in the next six to 12 months.

Bupa has “advanced plans” to enter the Indian market through a joint-venture health insurer in India.

Bupa has 3.3 million customers in the Asia-Pacific region, which is about 30 percent of its world-wide customer base. It plans to make the Australia division, with its MBF, HBA and Mutual Community brands, larger than its British business.

Holden told the Australian Associated Press: “This makes Australia the biggest market outside the UK. One of our goals is to make the business larger than in the UK. Bupa is committed to both Australia and to expanding in the region. And to demonstrate that commitment Bupa is relocating its regional headquarters from London to Sydney.”

Bupa’s combined market capitalisation in Australia is now around $4 billion. It would be ranked about 70, if it were listed on the Australian stock exchange.

Bupa, which has offshoots in Thailand and Hong Kong, also offers travel, home and car insurance.

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