AMP, Australia's largest and oldest insurer, says it intends to become a major player in the Hong Kong market. The company remained tight-lipped about the strategy it was preparing or the resources it intended to invest. The insurer offers a wide range of life insurance-based products and some general insurance through its network of 200 agents and 50 staff in Hong Kong. Its total market share three years after setting up in the territory is less than one per cent. General manager Roger Steel said the company had worldwide assets under management worth $420 billion, with premium income last year reaching $45 billion and protection in force about $1.1 trillion. Mr Steel would not disclose the percentage of premium income attributable to its Hong Kong operation. According to the annual report, the company last year posted a 28 per cent increase in new business and 72 per cent rise in premiums in-force. Policies issued in 1994 amounted to new business annual premiums of $15 million. About 40 per cent of the new business was from two new whole-of-life plans launched in July 1994, and terminal illness benefit provisions added to all life insurance policies. The company yesterday launched a critical illness plan called Crisis Care which offers both a lump sum benefit and a monthly recovery benefit. AMP has been slower than its other Australian rivals, such as National Mutual, in building up a Southeast Asian operation. The group has about $1.4 billion invested in the Hong Kong stock market and another $700 million in the Asian Infrastructure Fund. The company has a 40 per cent stake in an Indonesia-based insurance group, Panim, and a 65 per cent stake in an offshoot, MP Panin Life. Mr Steel said: 'We are looking at the Mandatory Provident Fund legislation but at this stage are not saying too much. 'The life insurance market is not very well penetrated [in Hong Kong]. We want to become more of a local company. 'When we first came to Hong Kong we did not intend to initially launch ourselves in a big way. 'The emphasis is on quality and the long term.'