Richard Li Tzar-kai has appointed Ronald Arculli as chairman of his new insurance business, FWD, after reinsurance firm Swiss Re invested US$425 million in the company.
Hong Kong-headquartered FWD has a geographical advantage in reaching out to 3 billion people in a five-hour time zone, together with the Asia's rapidly rising middle-income class, Arculli told a media briefing in Hong Kong yesterday.
"My goal is to oversee the regulatory environment, internal risk management, as well as business opportunities for expansion."
Arculli, currently a senior partner at King & Wood Mallesons, said the popularity of technology meant FWD could penetrate Asian markets with after-sales service over the internet.
Arculli is also an independent non-executive director of Hong Kong-listed SCMP Group, the publishing company that owns the South China Morning Post.
FWD was expected to announce a new chief executive soon after appointing Arculli chairman.
"I am confident that Mr Arculli will provide great insight and counsel for the business as we continue our journey to becoming one of the leading insurance companies in the pan-Asia region," said Richard Li, chairman of Pacific Century Group (PCG).
Reinsurance company Swiss Re said last week it was investing up to US$425 million to acquire a minority stake in FWD, an insurance business that PCG bought from ING last year.
Zurich-based Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurance provider, will initially own 12.3 per cent of FWD. It will make additional investments to fund the Hong Kong-based company's planned expansion.
In 2007, Li, the youngest son of Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, sold his stake in Pacific Century Insurance to Fortis. He re-entered the business through PCG's US$2.14 billion purchase of ING's insurance operations in Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand, deal completed in February.
The name of that business was changed from ING to FWD in August as part of the takeover deal because ING sought to retain the brand name for its banking operation.
Last month, FWD Hong Kong and Macau chief executive David Wong Tai-wai said the firm aimed to be one of the top five insurers in Hong Kong within five years. It is currently ranked ninth.