MassMutual seeks China expansion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 12:00am

MassMutual Asia, the Hong Kong arm of the United States' sixth-largest life insurer, saw profit treble to HK$76 million last year from HK$24 million in 2000.

Elroy Chan Siu-yuen, managing director and chief executive of MassMutual Asia, said the growth was due partly to increased sales of new individual life policies last year.

Premiums from sales of new policies last year was HK$350 million, up 13 per cent on 2000.

The results also were boosted by expansion into Macau.

MassMutual Asia, which employs 1,500 agents in Hong Kong, established a Macau office two years ago. It contributed significantly to sales revenue only in the past 12 months.

Mr Chan said the insurer would now target China.

It has only a representative office in Shanghai but intends to apply later this year for a licence to set up a life insurance joint venture with a mainland partner.

He said: 'After China's accession to the World Trade Organisation, we expect China to give more licences to foreign insurers.

'With a 1.3 billion population in China, the expansion opportunities for the foreign insurance companies would be huge.'

Mr Chan said the company aimed to recruit 1,000 agents this year, to expand its sales force to 2,500 - the key factor in achieving its target of increasing new policy sales 25 per cent this year and lifting new premiums to HK$450 million.

He said MassMutual Asia also planned to launch investment-linked products as he believed the present low interest rates would force people to consider insurance policies that could offer higher investment returns.

Mr Chan said the company would continue to seek Asian acquisitions, but it was not in negotiations at present.