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ACE licensed to operate life insurance

"Our Vietnam operation is a milestone in our long-term strategy to build a life insurance presence in Asia." - Evan Greenberg, president and CEO of ACE Limited

VNS Hanoi, 2 February 2005 - The Ministry of Finance said yesterday it approved of US insurer ACE INA's plan to set up a wholly-foreign owned life insurance company in Vietnam.

The company expects to receive a license by mid-year, and ACE said it would then immediately begin its plans for operations in Vietnam.

"I am pleased that ACE has been approved to conduct a life insurance business in Vietnam, [as] it is a country with a bright and prosperous future, given the size of its population and the industrious nature of its people," said Evan Greenberg, president and CEP of ACE Limited.

"Our Vietnam operation is a milestone in our long-term strategy to build a life insurance presence in Asia," Greenberg added.

ACE's proposed initial capital is estimated at US$10 million, which would be doubled within five years to expand operations. ACE has maintained a representative office in Vietnam since 1996 and formally submitted its application to establish a life insurance company in August 2002.

Over the past eight years, ACE has operated in Vietnam as a reinsurer, providing the domestic insurance industry with a reinsurance capacity of more than $5 million through its Vietnam representative office.

As Vietnam is one of Asia's fastest growing life insurance markets, with gross premium last year reaching VND8 trillion ($509 million), up 20 per cent over the previous year, foreign insurers are eyeing the market.  Two American insurance companies, American International Group (AIG) and Inchibrok, are already operating in Vietnam, while four other companies are waiting licensing.

Vietnam has 25 insurance companies, 12 of which are foreign invested.

ACE INA is the US-based division of the ACE Group of Companies, which provides insurance and reinsurance for diverse group of clients in 50 countries around the world.  The company's gross premiums reached $14.6 billion in 2003. - VNS