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AIA Group FY new business value surges 28%, meets estimates

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AIA Group Ltd on Tuesday posted a 28 per cent rise in new business in the latest fiscal year, meeting forecasts, as the insurer gained from sustained demand in its core markets of Hong Kong and China.

[HONG KONG] AIA Group Ltd on Tuesday posted a 28 per cent rise in new business in the latest fiscal year, meeting forecasts, as the insurer gained from sustained demand in its core markets of Hong Kong and China.

AIA's value of new business, which measures expected profits from new premiums and is a key gauge for growth, rose to US$3.51 billion for the year ended Nov 30, up from US$2.75 billion a year ago, the company said in a filing with the exchange.

Analysts had expected AIA to post a 28 per cent jump in value of new business to US$3.52 billion, as per Thomson Reuters data.

China and Hong Kong together account for about half of new business growth globally at AIA, originally founded in Shanghai nearly 100 years ago and the first foreign insurer to be granted a license in China.

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AIA's other major markets include Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia - the South-east Asian countries that have become a battleground for foreign insurers who are attracted by the region's lower insurance penetration levels.

AIA in September last year agreed to buy the insurance unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia for US$3.1 billion, in the biggest Asian buyout of an Australian financial firm, to expand its footprint.

The deal is AIA's second-biggest acquisition since it listed in Hong Kong in 2010. It had bought ING Groep's Malaysian insurance unit for US$1.7 billion in 2010.

Hong Kong-based AIA's annualised new premium posted growth of 19 per cent to US$6.09 billion in the year to Nov 30. Operating profit after tax rose to US$4.65 billion from US$3.98 billion a year ago.

The company said it would pay dividends of 74.38 Hong Kong cents per share, an increase of 17 per cent.

REUTERS