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Great Eastern's Q1 profit grows 68% on contributions from Singapore insurance business

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INSURER Great Eastern's (GE) first-quarter net profit grew 68 per cent to S$152.9 million, thanks to higher earnings from its Singapore insurance business.

Nonetheless, this was offset by losses from changes in the fair value of investments arising from "unfavourable market conditions", GE said in its filing with the Singapore bourse on Friday.

On a per share basis, GE's profit attributable to shareholders came in at S$0.32, up from S$0.19 in the same quarter last year.

No interim dividend has been declared for the current financial period.

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In addition, GE's total weighted new sales fell 17 per cent to S$231.1 million for the quarter, on the back of lower Single Premium sales in Singapore. New business embedded value, which is a measure of long-term economic profitability, also declined 9 per cent to S$100.7 million.

However, while new sales declined, operating profit from the group's insurance business rose 32 per cent to S$159.3 million for Q1 2018, mainly attributable to positive performance from its life insurance business.

For the three months ended March 31, GE also registered a S$722.7 million loss on sale of investments and changes in fair value, versus a gain of S$1.02 billion a year ago.

Commenting on the group's financial results for the first quarter this year, CEO Khor Hock Seng said: "We remain focused on our strategic plan to strengthen our distribution capabilities, optimise our bancassurance partnerships, and firmly push forward in our digitalisation transformation to better serve our customers."

Shares in GE last traded at S$30.31 apiece on Thursday, down 2.2 per cent, or S$0.69.