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Insurer AIA posts rise in new business value as China reopens post COVID

Illustration shows smartphone with AIA Group's logo displayed

By Rishav Chatterjee

(Reuters) -Asia-focused insurer AIA Group Ltd on Thursday reported a 37% rise in the value of its new business in the first-half, beating estimates, as sales rebounded in its key markets mainland China and Hong Kong after the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

The insurer's value of new business (VONB), which measures expected profits from new premiums and is a key gauge for future growth, rose to $2.03 billion in the six months ended June 30, compared with $1.54 billion a year earlier.

VONB at Hong Kong, its biggest market, rose around 111% to $681 million, boosted by domestic customers as well as travellers from mainland China.

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AIA said its value of new business in markets other than China and Hong Kong also jumped, reflecting strong earnings growth in Australia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"Our new business performance in the first half of 2023 was broad-based, reflecting AIA’s substantial competitive advantages in capturing the significant growth opportunities in Asia," the company said.

Analysts at Daiwa Capital Markets said the increase was above consensus estimates.

Shares of the insurer rose 5.1% to 73.5 Hong Kong dollars ($9.37) as of 0129 GMT

Mainland China, AIA's second largest market, recorded a 14% rise in value of new business (VONB) during the period to $601 million, helped by the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions at the start of the year.

AIA, which was founded in Shanghai more than a century ago, declared an interim dividend of 42.29 Hong Kong cents, compared to 40.28 Hong Kong cents a year ago.

The company's earnings were also aided by strong performance of Tata AIA Life, an Indian joint venture between AIA Group and Tata Group.

($1 = 7.8403 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)