Irish Life’s new Canadian owner to seek out more deals here as sector consolidates
Irish Life chief Bill Kyle says Candian parent has resources for “significant acquistions”
Bill Kyle, chief executive at Irish Life: “For the size of the market there’s an awful lot of smaller players and . . . there’s probably an opportunity for consolidation.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Canadian financial group Great-West Lifeco is keen to follow up its recent €1.3 billion acquisition of Irish Life from the State with other deals here, according to Bill Kyle, the new head of its life and pensions operations in Ireland.
Mr Kyle moved from Canada at the beginning of July to become chief executive of Irish Life and oversee its integration with the local operation of Canada Life, which was already owned by Great-West Lifeco. These businesses have a combined 35 per cent market share.
In an interview with The Irish Times today, Mr Kyle said the life and pensions market here is ripe for consolidation.
“For the size of the market there’s an awful lot of smaller players and . . . there’s probably an opportunity for consolidation,” Mr Kyle said. “Where there are opportunities we would certainly be interested in pursuing them.”
When asked what types of deals Irish Life would pursue, he said: “If there were back books of business where people needed administration we would be keenly interested. Basically, any area where we could leverage our expertise and financial resources we would take a look at what was there.”
AIB is selling Ark Life’s closed book of life insurance business, which comprises about 300,000 policies. It bought out Aviva, its joint venture partner on Ark Life, earlier this year by paying €325 million for a 100 per cent interest in Ark Life Assurance Co Ltd. Irish Life has a deal with AIB to sell its products through the bank’s branch network and is rumoured to be interested in the Ark Life book.
Mr Kyle would not comment specifically on Ark Life but added “we’re ruling nothing out”.
“I would expect there will be things that will come along that will be a good fit,” he added. “We’re certainly on the look out.”
When asked what war chest he had for acquisitions, Mr Kyle said: “At Great-West Lifeco level, it’s a very financially strong company, with a strong track record of acquisitions. We have the financial resources to do significant acquisitions.”