"When we looked at ANI in Sri Lanka we not only looked at the net worth of the company - the embedded value or value of the book of the company. When we assessed the opportunity, we had to look at the whole macro-economic conditions and the potential.
"And we looked at the players within that market who are in the best position to take advantage of that potential."
AIA bought into ANI as UK's Aviva decided to exit several Asian markets. AIA has an Asia focus and is present in 15 markets in the region, including Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia Thailand India and Sri Lanka.
Bill Lisle, group chief distribution officer, AIA Group Limited says the firm's 90-year long experience in Asia will help drive the unit in Sri Lanka."We looked at the opportunity in Sri Lanka post war with the economy starting to grow. There is a consumer need that needs to be met. Low penetration of all insurance is an opportunity to build on."
"Having 90 years of experience across Asia in 15 markets one thing we pride ourselves is making different products that meet customers' life stage needs in those different markets.
"So all the experience that we can bring from around the AIA group into Sri Lanka will benefit the company and benefit the customer.
"So we will continue product innovation. But again it is about having the right the product for the customer and insurance agents trained appropriately to give the right advice to the customer."
AIA bought out both Aviva and Colombo-based joint venture partner NDB Bank group. But it has retained its fund management arm to handle its investments and also struck a long term bankassurance deal to sell AIA products through its banking network.
Lisle says AIA is still developing its strategy in Sri Lanka with regulatory approval still pending.
General insurance in Sri Lanka has got extremely competitive in Sri Lanka with some are running underwriting losses. Even motor, one of the growth areas, has seen new players coming in with aggressive pricing.
Lisle says it is too early to say whether AIA will exit general insurance in Sri Lanka.
"We will look at every aspect of the strategy and today it is a successful business. And in the next few months we will review it along with our longer term strategy."
Phong is currently in charge of emerging markets in Indonesia, Vietnam, India Thailand and Sri Lanka, once regulators approve the deal and the acquisition is concluded.
"We have a 90-year history in the Asia Pacific region and we focus on the Asia Pacific. We intend to make a long term commitment in every market that we go into," he says.
".. [E]merging markets are much more exciting. You can feel the growth and the energy of the people.
"So places like Sri Lanka and Indonesia represent the future of Asia."