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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Insurer AIA Group Ltd raised its interim dividend on Tuesday and posted a jump in first-half new business value, as it recovered from pandemic-led business disruptions in most of its main markets apart from Hong Kong.
The Asia-focused insurer's value of new business (VONB), which measures expected profit from new premiums and is a gauge for future growth, rose by 22% to $1.81 billion in the January-to-June period.
VONB jumped 15% in AIA's largest market of mainland China, helping the company increase its interim dividend by 8.6% to 38.00 Hong Kong cents per share.
"All reportable segments exceeded pre-pandemic levels of the first half of 2019, except Hong Kong, where ongoing travel restrictions have affected new business sales to mainland Chinese visitors," Chief Executive Officer Lee Yuan Siong said.
VONB grew just 2% in Hong Kong.
AIA and other insurers in Hong Kong previously got a large share of their sales from selling insurance products to Chinese visitors to Hong Kong seeking better products and overseas investment opportunities.
In Asia, insurance firms mainly rely on their army of agents for product sales, which have been dented by lockdowns and social distancing measures put in place by various countries to contain the pandemic, though AIA, like peers, has been trying to sell more products online.
"Although the lasting effects of the pandemic are far from over, I am confident that our businesses are equipped with innovative technologies and digital tools that enable them to navigate disruption better than before," said Lee.
(Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru and Alun John in Hong Kong; Editing by Aditya Soni ad Stephen Coates)