Symetra Surges on Report That Sumitomo Life Weighs Acquisition

Symetra Financial Corp. climbed 8.3 percent after Nikkei reported over the weekend that Japan’s Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. may be interested in purchasing the U.S. life insurer.

Symetra rose to $29 at 10:39 a.m. in New York, after gaining 16 percent this year through Friday. Toshiya Matsushita, a Sumitomo spokesman, said the Japanese company is “considering multiple options” for mergers and acquisitions in the U.S., declining to comment about Symetra. Diana McSweeney, a spokeswoman for Bellevue, Washington-based Symetra, declined to comment.

Japanese insurers have sought to increase revenue through overseas acquisitions as an aging domestic population pressures demand for new policies. Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. agreed in June to buy HCC Insurance Holdings Inc. for about $7.5 billion, and Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. said in July that it planned to buy Portland, Oregon-based StanCorp Financial Group Inc.

“Inbound M&A – especially by Asian insurers – is expected to continue in 2015, as an improving U.S. economy leads to more growth opportunities on both a relative and absolute basis compared to emerging economies, and foreign buyers seek to make a play before US interest rates rise,” Deloitte said in a 2015 report on insurance M&A activity.

Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., Japan’s second-largest life insurer, agreed in June 2014 to spend more than $5 billion for the purchase of Protective Life Corp. Dai-ichi set up headquarters in the U.S. after the deal and seeks to give more authority to overseas units to set aside capital for M&A, company President Koichiro Watanabe said in June.

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