March 27, 2018 / 12:10 PM / a year ago

China's Fosun posts fastest profit growth in four years

(This story corrects second paragraph to say Fosun owns a stake in Cirque du Soleil.)

FILE PHOTO: Vehicles drive in front of the headquarters of Fosun International, in Shanghai, China, March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Acquisitive Chinese conglomerate Fosun International’s (0656.HK) full-year profit jumped 28.2 percent to a record high, it said on Tuesday, marking its fastest growth in four years.

Fosun, which owns Club Med and a stake in Cirque du Soleil within its broad portfolio, achieved net profit of 13.16 billion yuan ($2.1 billion) last year, up from 10.27 billion yuan in 2016, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The group appears to have backing from officials in Beijing, having continued a buying spree even as authorities tightened the screws on deals abroad by other high-profile Chinese companies.

“In 2017, the group saw stronger growth from core operations and achieved successes in several turnaround companies,” Fosun said in the filing.

That helped it to its biggest annual net profit rise since 2013, according to company data on the Thomson Reuters Eikon platform.

The company added that divestments included the disposal of Ironshore to Liberty Mutual Group for $2.94 billion. The bottom line was also helped by 10 initial public offerings (IPOs) Fosun took part in on global exchanges, it said.

Fosun has previously brushed off the impact of a crackdown on overseas dealmaking and said it welcomed Beijing’s guidelines on offshore investment.

The Hong Kong-listed company recently snapped up two European fashion labels and took control of a Brazilian broker in deals worth a combined $245 million.

Fosun is the latest Chinese company to expand into fashion labels at a time when consumers in China — the world’s second-biggest economy — are driving a global revival in luxury goods spending.

The results announcement came after the Hong Kong market closed.

Shares of Fosun were up 3.5 percent ahead of the results announcement, outperforming a 0.8 percent rise for the benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI.

Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree in HONG KONG and Lee Chyen Yee in SINGAPORE; Editing by David Goodman

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