People travel in a lift at the Lloyds of London building in the financial district of the City of London
LONDON (Reuters) - Specialist insurance market Lloyd's of London (SOLYD.UL) said on Thursday it planned to apply for an onshore reinsurance licence and open an office in Malaysia, as part of its push into emerging markets.
Lloyd's has a strategy to expand into developing markets, where insurance typically has low penetration but is growing rapidly, to grab market share from local players.
The licence application follows confirmation from the British and Malaysian governments, Lloyd's said in a statement.
"The insurance market is very competitive and the competition is very strong," Lloyd's chairman John Nelson told Reuters by phone from Kuala Lumpur, adding that: "Lloyd's position is very strong -- we are increasing our footprint."
In Asia, Lloyd's already has an office in Singapore and it opened an office in Dubai earlier this year. It is also targeting the Islamic insurance market.
The 90-plus syndicates which operate at Lloyd's wrote 25 billion pounds ($39 billion) in gross written premiums last year, with 12 percent of the business coming from Asia.
Nelson said around $130 million in business was written for Malaysia, but said an onshore presence would likely enable that figure to grow, without giving a target.
Lloyd's said the licence would "give Lloyd's a significant opportunity to develop its marine, energy, construction, engineering and liability business, as well as introduce new products to the market".
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Simon Jessop and Mark Potter)