Dah Sing pays HK$2.2b in special dividend from insurance unit sale
The company will pay shareholders a special dividend of HK$6.6 per share after the sale completes. More sales of local insurers are awaiting authorities’ approval including Hong Kong Life and MassMutual Asia
Dah Sing Financial Holdings has said it would pay a special dividend totaling HK$2.21 billion (US$280 million), or HK$6.6 per share, after the completed sale of its life insurance unit, the company announced in a stock exchange filing on Wednesday.
The financial firm reported a first half net profit of HK$4.84 billion (HK$618 million) for 2017, up 430 per cent from a year earlier at HK$913.88 million. Basic earnings per share from continuing operation was HK$2.97, compared with HK$2.41 last year, while earnings per share from discontinued operation was at HK$11.49 per share, compared with 31 HK cents.
The special dividend and strong profit growth were due to the sale of its entire stake in Dah Sing Life Assurance and related companies to Fujian Thai Hot Investment for HK$8.03 billion (US$1.02 billion). The deal was announced in June last year and completed on June 19.
Excluding the exceptional profit from the disposal of the Hong Kong life insurance business, profit of the firm’s insurance operations was HK$263.3 million in the first half, up 151 per cent from a year earlier.
The banking arm of the company reported a net profit to shareholders increasing by 21.1 per cent to HK$1.299 billion, driven by both an improvement in operating income and substantially lower bad debts.
“We completed the disposal of our Hong Kong life insurance business in the first half of the year, and we expect to complete the sale of our Macau life insurance business in the second half,” the company said in a statement.
“The disposal of the life business gives us both more capital and additional management resources to devote to the expansion of our general insurance business, and we look forward to seeing significant progress in the next few years,” it said.
The deal is the latest transaction in mainland investors acquiring Hong Kong insurers, with more of them awaiting for the Hong Kong Insurance Authority’s approval, including the proposed acquisition of Hong Kong Life by mainland investment firm UCF led consortium for HK$7.1 billion (US$914.8 million).
Last week, Yunfeng Financial Group, the company backed by Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma, has agreed to buy an Asian unit from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance for HK$13 billion (US$1.7 billion) with 60 per cent of the amount to be paid in cash and the rest in Yunfeng stocks.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.