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Affin Bank HQ

PETALING JAYA: Affin Bank Bhd (pic) is on track to achieve its financial year 2022 (FY22) targets, underpinned by the sale of the company’s stakes in its business units.

The disposals would help to fuel its key banking division’s endeavours despite headwinds.

The bank planned to sell its stake in Affin Hwang Asset Management Bhd (AHAM), which is expected to be completed by the end of the month. This would also raise the bank’s common equity Tier-1 (CET1) capital ratio.

It received the green light from its shareholders in May to proceed with the sale of its 63% stake in AHAM held by Affin Hwang Investment Bank Bhd to Starlight Asset Sdn Bhd. The sale would unlock RM1.54bil in cash, which would boost its organic growth in the banking division.

The bank has also obtained the approval from the Finance Ministry on the same month to dispose of 21% of its equity interest in AXA Affin Life Insurance Bhd (AALI) and 2.95% stake in AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd (AAGI) to Generali Asia N.V.

Currently, Affin owns 51% in AALI and 49.95% in AAGI. Affin has agreed for the general insurance business of AAGI and MPI Generali Insurans Bhd (MPIG) to be merged under AAGI, whereby AAGI would acquire certain assets and liabilities of MPIG via a business transfer to create an enlarged company, subject to the approval of Bank Negara.

A new local company (newco) would be incorporated to hold all of the shares in AALI and AAGI. Affin would, in turn, be holding 30% equity interest in the newco, with Generali holding the remaining 70% equity interest in the newco.

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Kenanga Research said the company would ensure that the working capital targets were sufficiently fulfilled before it considered the quantum of special dividends that might be paid.

Of the RM1.54bil proceeds, the research house said it estimates a payout of 25% to shareholders, which could translate to about 18 sen in special dividends or 9% yield while still keeping CET1 level at around 15.8%.

The sale of stakes in AALI and AAGI to the joint venture (JV) with Generali (estimated to be completed end of next month) would provide additional RM155mil cash while still being earnings accretive as an associate.

That said, the operational integration of this JV is expected to only materialise by the first quarter of next year.

Post-merger, the combined gross written premium is expected to stand at about RM2bil, behind market leader Allianz’s RM2.35bil book.

There could be a two-pronged growth enjoyed with Generali’s non-cannibalistic product offerings on top of operational synergies from the merged entity, uplifting the segment’s overall contribution to beat its historical 5% of group earnings, going forward.

The group remained confident that its 12% loans growth (the highest in the industry) target for FY22 is attainable.

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