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May 8 (Bloomberg) -- Sun Life Financial Inc., Canada’s third-largest insurer, will seek sales growth in Asian markets to help counter stagnant interest rates, Chief Executive Officer Dean Connor said.

“Malaysia offers excellent opportunities for long-term growth with a fast growing economy and middle class,” Connor said today at the company’s annual meeting in Toronto. “Vietnam’s life insurance market is in its infancy, but with 90 million people and a fast growing economy, we see it as a long-term growth engine.”

Sales at Sun Life’s joint venture in Vietnam with PVI Holdings should begin in the next few months, Connor said. The Toronto-based firm announced a deal in January with Khazanah Nasional Bhd to buy 98 percent of Aviva Plc’s and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd’s Malaysian insurance joint venture for 1.8 billion Malaysian ringgit ($608 million).

The Canadian benchmark overnight rate, which has been 1 percent since September 2010, won’t rise until the third quarter of 2014, according to a forecast of 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katia Dmitrieva in Toronto at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scanlan at

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