A third major Japanese life insurer, Sony Life, has made a move into the Australia market by securing a significant stake in financial services and life insurance provider, ClearView.
Sony Life will take a 14.9% stake in the group, which it will acquire from another major shareholder – Crescent Capital Partners – which held 52.9% of ClearView at the time the Sony Life acquisition was announced.
The acquisition of the stake is not dependent on regulatory approval with ClearView stating the transaction would be effected through an off-market transaction that was expected to be settled within days.
Sony Life also has the potential to lift its stake in ClearView with the transaction also granting a call option to Crescent Capital Partners that allow it the right to sell the Sony Life shares in ClearView, alongside its own shares in the company, to a third party if certain conditions are not meet by early 2018.
The call option will only be applicable if after 18 months Sony Life has not made a bid for all the issued shares in ClearView or proposed a scheme to acquire all the issued shares. The bid must account for at least 50.1% of the issued shares in ClearView and it, or the scheme of acquisition, must be approved by a majority of the ClearView Board.
As a result of the acquisition of the stake, Sony Life will be represented on the ClearView Board through the appointment of a non-executive, non-independent director who will hold a casual vacancy and will be subject to re-election at the 2017 shareholders’ meeting.
ClearView Managing Director, Simon Swanson said the two insurers would also put in place a technical services agreement to transfer skills and experience between the organisations and this would include personnel exchanges.
The overall aim of this agreement would be to expand ClearView’s distribution in the non-aligned advice sector and to lift the quality of advice provided by ClearView’s own aligned adviser while recruiting more advisers to the group.
Sony Life is wholly owned by Sony Financial Holdings, which is in turn is majority owned by Sony Corporation, and is the third Japanese life insurer to build a presence in Australia following the recent acquisition of MLC Ltd by Nippon Life and the acquisition of TAL by Daichi Life in 2011.