Manulife (International), the Hong Kong wing of Manulife Financial, Canada's biggest life insurance firm, says earnings for the second quarter jumped 52 per cent to $218 million against the period before. New business premiums soared 55 per cent to $427 million between April and June. Marketing services assistant vice-president Belinda Luk Kwai-sim said yesterday Manulife had claimed 13 per cent of the territory's life insurance market. She said this compared with AIA International's 28 per cent and National Mutual Asia's 19 per cent. Manulife has about 1,800 agents in the territory. Ms Luk said Manulife was expected to apply for a joint-venture insurance licence from the People's Bank of China (PBOC) this month. 'We are still in talks with our partner, Sinochem, on the co-operation details,' Ms Luk said. 'Only when the details are worked out will the PBOC let us apply for the licence.' Manulife was expected to get the joint-venture insurance licence - the first of its kind in China - by the end of the year, after signing an agreement of co-operation with state-owned conglomerate Sinochem in May. AIA was the only other foreign life insurance company given a licence, earlier this year, to set up a branch operation. Beijing has said the next foreign company with life insurance operations in China would have to team up with a mainland company. Manulife, controlling 51 per cent of the $185 million joint-venture, will have its first branch operation in Shanghai once approval is granted. It has five representative offices in China. Yesterday, Manulife launched a new product aimed at offering compensation for lost earnings due to inability to work because of illness or injuries. 'Considering the territory's work force of over three million, the future prospects for the product are promising,' Ms Luk said. The compensation would be limited to $100,000 per month, or up to 75 per cent of the monthly income of the insured.