AIG kicks off sale of Asian unit

American International Group will hold at least a 30 per cent stake in its Asian life insurance business, AIA Group Ltd, for a year after AIA's listing in Hong Kong next month.

AIA began pre-marketing for the IPO yesterday to gauge demand and is expected to set a price range in coming weeks. Two brokers, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and UBS, released research reports on AIA with an average top-end valuation of $38.8bn (£24.5bn). The two are among the 11 book runners for the IPO, which is set to be the biggest-ever insurance float.

The bullish valuations for AIA compare with the $35.5bn which Prudential first offered for AIA in March. The British insurer had then asked AIG to cut the price to $30.4bn, but it was turned down, leading to the termination of the deal.