The operating licence is expected to be issued in 2010.

The venture is part of Generali's strategy to expand its presence in markets with high growth potential.

"The experience gained in developing our activities in China and in Southeast Asia will be extremely valuable for the future launch of our activities in Vietnam," Generali Chief Executive Sergio Balbinot said in the statement.

In Asia, the insurer's operational markets include China, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan.

Reuters - August 26, 2009