Hong Kong company reporting season

Asia Financial to use asset sale windfall for special dividend, acquisitions

Investment holding company open to acquisitions that help in future growth, says top official

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 2017, 8:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 2017, 10:57pm

Asia Financial Holdings, the city-based investment holding company that focuses on financial businesses, is planning to use the HK$1 billion (US$130 million) it earns from the disposal of its holdings in Hong Kong Life for a special dividend or other acquisition opportunities, according to a top official.

Bernard Chan, the president of Asia financial Holding said: “We expect the Hong Kong Life deal to get the regulatory clearance in a year. So as such we are not expecting the profit to accrue till 2018,” Chan said during the company’s earnings announcement on Thursday.

“Once the deal is completed, we might consider paying a special dividend or use the money for takeovers that can boost future growth.”

Asia Financial’s core business is general insurance, wherein it owns Asia Insurance which is one of the top ten general insurers in Hong Kong. It has investment in a number of insurance joint ventures including Hong Kong Life which it jointly owned with four other financial firms.

First Origin International agreed on Monday to spend HK$7.1 billion (US$914.8 million) to buy stakes of the joint venture life insurer. The buyers behind First Origin is a consortium of five mainland companies, including UCF Group which is based in Beijing and Hong Kong which has businesses in financial technology, online wealth management, payments, health care and real estate sectors, a source familiar with the deal told the South China Morning Post.

Earlier on Thursday, Asia Financial reported a 97 per cent increase in 2016 net profit to HK$367.3 million, or 36.8 HK cents per share. It announced a final dividend of 5.5 HK cents, taking the full-year dividend payout to 8 HK cents, up 74 per cent from the level in 2015.

Chan said the profit growth was mainly due to valuation gains in its investment portfolio and underwriting profit from its insurance business which rose 31 per cent year on year.

“This performance was helped by the lack of exposure to any major natural disasters during the reporting period,” he said.