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Great Eastern Q1 profit more than doubles to S$342.7m on investments

GREAT Eastern’s net profit for the first quarter more than doubled to S$342.7 million from S$152.9 million a year ago, on the back of higher valuation of its shareholders' fund investments resulting from favourable market conditions.

The insurance arm of OCBC Bank saw a rise in earnings per share to 72 Singapore cents for the quarter from 32 cents a year ago, it said on Friday in a regulatory filing.

No interim dividend has been declared for the quarter, unchanged from a year ago. Shares of the company closed flat at S$25.95 on Thursday.

While new sales grew for the three months ended March 31, operating profit from its insurance business declined 8 per cent to S$150 million from S$162.9 million a year ago.

The group’s total weighted new sales rose 6 per cent to S$249.4 million from S$235.1 million a year ago as the group’s operations in Malaysia and Indonesia continued its growth momentum. In Singapore, agency sales “remained resilient”, while bancassurance dipped slightly, the group said. 

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Non-operating profit in Q1 rebounded to S$74.6 million from a loss of S$8.7 million a year ago, due to strong financial market conditions. The group registered a S$2.04 billion gain on sale of investments and changes in fair value, compared with a loss of S$722.7 million a year ago.

Moving forward, the group said that its performance may be affected by volatility in global financial markets. Key indicators to watch in the long term are the direction of interest rates, equity prices and foreign exchange rates.

Group chief executive officer Khor Hock Seng said the group will continue its push in its digital transformation journey as it embraces a new generation of consumers.

He added building digital affinity partnerships is an integral part of the group’s digital transformation in order to provide more value and allow customers to enjoy insurance solutions seamlessly. More lifestyle-related modular products will also be launched in the coming months.

"This push forward is a firm step to elevate customer experience and reach new segments of customers to serve them conveniently and seamlessly,” he said.

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