MassMutual Asia - formerly known as CRC Protective Life Insurance - is targeting large companies for its MPF business. Jonas Wong, assistant vice- president, employee benefit of MassTrust Asia, said the company would now be able to sell its MPF products to large companies following its acquisition by United States-based MassMutual Financial Group, a financial services organisation providing life insurance, annuities, retirement planning, money management and other services. 'Backed by a parent which has a triple-A credit rating, we can now tender for big firms as well,' Mr Wong said, referring to the Standard & Poor's AAA rating. He said the MassTrust Asia was now in a better position to sell MPF plans to large firms as it is was one of the only two MPF providers which had received triple-A credit ratings. 'Jumbo-size companies do care about the credit rating,' he said. In March the MassMutual Financial Group completed the acquisition of CRC Protective to gain access to important Asian markets. Founded in 1994, CRC Protective was a 50-50 joint venture between Hong Kong Chinese Bank Holding and US-based Protective Life Corporation. CRC Protective was renamed MassMutual Asia after the acquisition. By adding a new stream of revenue from MPF plans of big firms, MassMutual expects to in crease its market share to 8 per cent from 5 per cent. Prior to the acquisition the company positioned itself to serve small and medium-sized companies. Mr Wong said because some service providers had dropped out of the MPF business and the company was backed by a strong parent company, it made the market target achievable. In order to capture the targeted market share in the MPF business, MassMutual Asia has budgeted US$200 million to roll out its MPF services according to a seven-year plan. So far, the company has invested $60 million in the past two years for infrastructure and business expansion. MassMutual is, however, keen to compete for business from SMEs, according to Tay Keng Puang, president of MassMutual Trustees, the MPF unit of MassMutual. The company is in talks with three to four professional associations to offer them customised MPF schemes for their members. 'This is a win-win situation, they (professional associations) have got membership, and we offer them better terms for MPF programmes,' Mr Wong said. In an attempt to gain market share, MassMutual is offering a minimum 5 per cent return guaranteed fund. Mr Wong said: 'There is no other competitor that offers the product which bears the same features as ours.' Mr Tay said that only a few MPF service providers could offer a guaranteed fund because of the substantial higher capital reserve requirement needed to back it up. 'The reserve requirement for guaranteed fund is about 20 to 50 per cent higher,' he said. In order to compete with MPF service providers backed by banks, MassMutual is negotiating with several banks, including Bank of America, to arrange credit facilities for customers. The insurer also offers a lower management fee of 1.5 per cent of the fund's assets, compared with the average charge in the MPF market of 2 per cent. MassMutual has about 1,300 agents and 800 are registered under MPFA. The company also has an agreement with about 70 per cent of the 400 independent insurance brokers and agents to distribute its MPF products.