February 26, 2018 / 10:20 PM / 10 months ago

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

(Reuters) - AIA Group Ltd (1299.HK) on Tuesday posted a 28 percent 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 $3.51 billion for the year ended Nov. 30, up from $2.75 billion a year ago, the company said in a filing with the exchange.

Analysts had expected AIA to post a 28 percent jump in value of new business to $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.

AIA’s other major markets include Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia - the Southeast 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 (CBA.AX) for $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 (INGA.AS) Malaysian insurance unit for $1.7 billion in 2010.

Hong Kong-based AIA’s annualized new premium posted growth of 19 percent to $6.09 billion in the year to Nov 30. Operating profit after tax rose to $4.65 billion from $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 percent.

Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong and Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Phil Berlowitz

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