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Sun Life's Stake in Indian Joint Venture Increases to 49%

Sun Life Financial Inc. SLF acquired an additional stake in Birla Sun Life Insurance Company Limited. With this, the acquirer’s interest in Birla Sun Life increases to 49% from 26%. The deal was announced last December to consolidate the company’s operations in India – one of its targeted growth markets.

Sun Life took over the additional stake from Aditya Birla Nuvo Limited – part of the Aditya Birla Group. Birla Sun Life Insurance Company is one joint venture between Sun Life and Aditya Birla Group, the other being Birla Sun Life Asset Management Company Limited. While Birla Sun Life Insurance has widespread network across India, Birla Sun Life Asset is the fourth largest mutual fund company in the country, with quarterly average assets under management of C$28 billion. Sun Life now owns a 49% stake in both the joint ventures.

Sun Life considers acquisition to be a prudent approach to ramp up its growth profile. This March, Sun Life acquired the employee benefits business of Assurant Inc. AIZ for $940 million to solidify the acquirer’s position in the U.S. group benefits business by adding capabilities. In January, Sun Life had increased its stake in PVI Sun Life to 75% from 49% thereby expediting growth in Vietnam.

These efforts bear testimony to Sun Life’s aggressive expansion in its international business. Moreover, these mark effective capital deployment supported by a solid financial position. Sun Life has been witnessing downward estimate revisions over the past few weeks. With optimism surrounding the company’s compelling inorganic growth story, we expect analysts to pull up their estimates exerting an upward pressure on the Zacks Rank. Sun Life presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Notably, the life insurer outperformed expectations in the last four quarters with an average beat of 11.35%.

Acquisitions are a well-accepted growth strategy among insurers. Recently, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. AJG acquired Charles Allen Agency, Inc. to enhance its capabilities in commercial surety bonding and insurance services, the construction industry in particular, in the Midwest. Earlier this month, Unum Group UNM agreed to acquire H&J Capital, LLC, the parent company of Starmount Life Insurance Company and AlwaysCare Benefits for $127 million plus net assets. This acquisition will bolster Starmount’s already robust portfolio of workplace financial protection products.

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UNUM GROUP (UNM): Free Stock Analysis Report
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ASSURANT INC (AIZ): Free Stock Analysis Report
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