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Manulife To Grow China Business, Hike Stake in Sinochem JV

Canadian-based multinational insurance giant aims to earn half of core earnings from Asia by 2025, up from 41% at the end of 2020


Roy Gori, Manulife CEO, said the insurer is "constantly looking" for a buyer for its Canadian variable annuities business. Photo: Reuters

 

The head of Manulife Financial Corporation said on Wednesday the company would like to deploy more capital in China, and would raise its stake in a joint venture with Sinochem from the current 51% if the opportunity arose.

Roy Gori, the Canadian insurer’s chief executive said Manulife aimed to earn half of core earnings from Asia by 2025, from about 41% at the end of 2020.

In 2019, Manulife made an investment in Haodf.com, China’s leading online medical platform, in a deal that also gives Manulife customers access to medical resources in China.

Manulife has also partnered with Singapore-based Rewardz, a rewards aggregator, to create a behaviour-linked programme to incentivise insurance customers to be more physically active.

Last year, Toronto-based Manulife teamed up with Vietnam’s Cong Dong Bau, which operates an online community of five million new and expectant mothers for access to financial advice and digital tools.

Growth in Earnings

Earlier this month, the Manulife group of companies operating in Hong Kong announced financial results for the third quarter and first nine months of 2021, reporting growth in core earnings and annualised premium equivalent (APE) sales.

The company posted core earnings of HK$5.3 billion in the first nine months of 2021, up 16% from the same period of 2020, and HK$1.9 billion in the third quarter, a rise of 16% from the year-earlier period.

Manulife recorded APE sales of HK$4.9 billion in the first nine months of 2021, up 10% from the same period of 2020, and HK$1.7 billion in the third quarter, a rise of 12% over 2020.

The insurer is boosting its fixed-income team in Hong Kong, with the appointment of Isaac Meng as a managing director and fixed income portfolio manager, as well as Judy Kwok as China fixed income research head.

Separately, Gori told an event in Toronto on Wednesday that Manulife is “constantly looking” for a buyer for its Canadian variable annuities business, but it has “not been a very vibrant market”.

Canada’s biggest life insurer struck a deal this week to exit most of its legacy US variable annuity business, freeing up over C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) of capital.

“The true value of our company isn’t being appreciated, and to some extent, that is a function of the fact that we do have some legacy businesses that, at the very least, create uncertainty and concern,” Gori told a TD Securities seminar.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by George Russell

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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