PRINCIPAL Insurance, one of the biggest and best-performing pension and life insurance administrators in the United States, has launched an assault on the Hong Kong market, targeting small to medium-sized companies. 'The vast majority of employers here are in this category and this is our specialty,' said marketing director Christopher Reddy. Principal's track record in the United States made it 'well-qualified to compete in the Hong Kong market, following extensive research', he said. The company launched its first products in the territory six months ago - encouraged by the proposed introduction of a Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme to be serviced by the private sector. Chief executive officer Rex Auyeung said: 'Our parent company administers more programmes by number than any bank, mutual fund or insurance company in the United States, which we believe makes us extremely well-qualified to develop and market similar products here.' He said Principal already had $950 million from funds invested in the local market and stressed: 'We are long-term players.' The company is part of Principal Financial Group, the eighth biggest life insurance company in the United States and 24th largest mutual insurance company in the world. It has US$60 billion in assets under management and, last year, served over 9.3 million customers. Principal Insurance has offices in seven countries, including China and Indonesia. The parent company, Principal Mutual Life Insurance, was recently named among Ward's 50 benchmark group of top-performing life and health insurance companies. Ward's Financial Group collates the Top 50 list annually to recognise companies that 'excel at balancing safety, consistency and performance' over the previous five years.