THE State Council has approved plans to restructure the People's Insurance Co of China (PICC) into a group company by the end of this year. Speaking in Beijing at an annual conference for representatives from PICC's overseas branches, general manager Ma Yongwei said three subsidiaries would be set up under the group. The three subsidiaries, as proposed by a report prepared by the People's Bank of China, would specialise in life insurance, property insurance and re-insurance. PICC would change its names to the People's Insurance Group Corp of China (or Zhongbao Group), Mr Ma was quoted as saying yesterday by Xinhua (the New China News Agency). PICC's overseas business also would be placed in the Zhongbao Group, Mr Ma was reported as saying. A PICC Hong Kong branch spokesman said it would not be clear if territory operations would be affected until the conference was finished on Friday. PICC, which dominated about 90 per cent of the insurance market in China, was designated as the first mainland insurance company to split its operations in life insurance and property insurance in accordance with the new insurance law, effective from October 1 this year. There were doubts about how to split the assets, liabilities and policy revenue from the giant state enterprise's life and property insurance, as they have long gone into the same coffers. Another thorny issue was how to spin off all the non-core business, profitable or loss-making, and how to keep a clear account book on the core operation only. A PICC source expected overseas business would not be affected because its overseas interests operated independently from the parent company. There were different proposals on how PICC should split its operations. One proposal was to put life insurance operations directly under the new life insurance company, the source said. The mainland domestic branches of PICC would then concentrate on property insurance - which remained the bulk of the business. At present, a domestic PICC branch could have eight to nine subsidiaries and it was still unclear how these subsidiaries would be restructured. Mr Ma said strategies for the group were being discussed. It was understood a conference for heads of the local branches would be called by mid-November, but details of the agenda have not been revealed. Despite reports that PICC's market share was shrinking due to the mounting pressure from competitors, Mr Ma said the company still had a 90 per cent market share nationwide.