General insurance sector has new player

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 December, 2009, 12:00am

Starr International Insurance (Asia), a company founded by former American International Group chairman Maurice Greenberg, has obtained approval from Hong Kong's insurance regulator to provide general insurance in the city.

The company said it would offer a variety of products to policyholders as well as risk-control, loss-control and claims-management services.

'Our experienced leadership, familiarity with Asian insurance markets and the strength of our corporate organisation will all facilitate sustainable future growth and profitability,' said a statement by Ross Matthews, the president of the company.

Matthews said all these factors would help facilitate the aggressive growth of the company's international operations in Hong Kong and beyond.

One veteran insurer with more than 20 years of industry experience said he expected competition to intensify in the general insurance sector if Starr International aggressively gained market share.

He said he expected Starr International to pose a direct threat to American International Underwriters (AIU), the general insurance unit of AIG.

AIU, the largest general insurer in the city, said it would try its best to defend its market share.

'What worries me is staff poaching and price war as a result. It will also affect other small and medium-sized companies,' the insurer said.

AIG and Greenberg have been fighting since the abrupt end in 2005 of his 37-year leadership, during which he built the insurer into one of the world's largest companies.

Last week, AIG settled long-running legal battles with Greenberg.

Since Greenberg was ousted, he has concentrated on building business and investment ventures through CV Starr.