Based on friday’s closing price of $15.66, GE Life is trading at 1.18x 2009 ‘s Embedded Value (the sum of net assets plus the current value of future profits from existing policies) of $13.167 a share. I have argued that based on what PRU is paying for AIA, GE Life’s value should be unlocked by OCBC http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/ocbc-value-to-be-unlocked-ii/
According to FT’s Lex, when an insurer is sold at EV, this means it is assumed it will write no more new business, nor make any gains on its investments. That is why most recent deals in mature markets have been completed at about 1.2 times – a small premium for control, for cost synergies, and for growth potential. The 1.69 times that the UK insurer is proposing to pay seems bullish, given that AIA’s two biggest markets by gross written premiums are Hong Kong and Singapore, already overrun by agents.
Then there’s the question of what the new owner will be allowed by regulators to keep. Some of the licences AIA holds were acquired decades ago, under old rules on foreign ownership. Factor in forced disposals, likely to be at multiples below 1.69, and the effective price for the remnants could become even higher. Korea Life, another insurer talking up an Asian growth story, recently went public at one times embedded value. Japan’s Daiichi Mutual, ditto, went at 0.6 times.
So if FT is right, the Pru is overpaying for AIA, and by implication GE Life at $15.66, is priced about right at about 1.18x EV. And that I talked nonsense about how much it was worth to OCBC, if sold. If Pru’s shareholders vote against the deal, I talked rubbish.