French bank expands in Taiwan's insurance market while others sell up

BNP Paribas said on Tuesday it would expand in Taiwan's insurance market with a new joint venture.

The bank's BNP Paribas Assurance unit will hold 49 percent of the T$2 billion ($60 million) venture, while Taiwan Cooperative Bank will own the rest. Prior to the venture's formation, BNP sold insurance in Taiwan via banking channels.

"It was a tough year in 2008, but Taiwan's market still managed to grow," said Kurt Cheng, a senior vice president of BNP's existing Taiwan insurance business.

"We expect the market to continue its growth momentum in 2009," he said, according to a report by news agency Reuters.

BNP's move into the Taiwan market runs counter to others' strategies. For example, ING has sold its Taiwan insurance business to Fubon Financial for $600 million. AIG is also trying to sell its Taiwan business, Nan Shan Life.