Bermuda-based global specialist insurance group Hiscox has completed the sale of the Hong Kong division of DirectAsia to Well Link Group Holdings Limited, after obtaining regulatory approval from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) in Hong Kong.
The deal will allow Hiscox Group to focus on growth strategy of DirectAsia’s businesses in Singapore and Thailand, where the business holds strong potential.
“The Hong Kong division of DirectAsia is a business with a great team and a distinctive business model, which has grown its premium income strongly since launch,” Bob Thaker, managing director of DirectAsia Group, said when the sale was first announced in March this year.
“However the focus for DirectAsia is on our core Singapore and Thailand markets where we see significant growth opportunities, and this transaction allows us to focus our energy and investment on those markets. Well Link is a great fit in terms of values and culture for the people and customers of the Hong Kong business unit, and this transaction gives them an attractive platform for growth in the region.”
Clyde & Co, the international law firm advised Hiscox on the sale. The advisory team was led by Kevin Martin with support from Partner Ian Stewart and the transaction team. Kevin Martin said of the deal: “We are delighted to have advised long-time client DirectAsia on the sale of its Hong Kong division”
DirectAsia is a direct to consumer insurance company that mainly offers motor insurance. It also has ancillary lines in travel and healthcare. Backed by call centres, DirectAsia offers a different business model in a market pre-dominated by agent-based channels.
The company started in Singapore in 2010 and expanded in Hong Kong and Thailand in 2012 and 2013, respectively. It has more than 75,000 customers and about 200 employees across its three operations.
In 2015, DirectAsia’s Hong Kong division made $8 million of Gross Written Premiums (GWP). The company serves 29,000 customers and has 40 employees.
A member of Hong Kong-based financial conglomerate, Well Link is supported by an investor group whose interests span asset management, corporate and customer finance, insurance broking and securities and futures brokerage.
The acquisition of DirectAsia’s Hong Kong division will complement Well Link’s existing businesses and present broader product opportunities.
“We welcomed the opportunity working with the current DirectAsia team to make it another successful business of our group. It is an important step towards our group’s long-term ambition to build a successful finance business in this region,” said a Well Link representative.
Well Link has the right to use the DirectAsia brand in Hong Kong for up to 12 months.
The Hiscox Group employs more than 2,200 people in 14 countries. It offers a wide range of specialist insurance for businesses, professionals and homeowners through its retail businesses in Europe, the UK and the US.