Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Shin Kong in talks to form China unit

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Shin Kong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽), a unit of the nation's seventh-biggest financial services provider, said it's holding talks with Chinese companies to form a venture with working capital of 800 million yuan (US$97 million).

Shin Kong is in preliminary talks with non-insurance companies, said vice president Chen Kuo-tsai (陳國財), speaking at a conference in Beijing. He declined to identify potential partners.

"We are not talking to local

insurers, which would only give us a passive investment," Chen said. "We want to make the most of the strong growth in China's insurance industry, which is in its early stages."

China's insurance premiums may surge to 3 trillion yuan by 2020 as economic growth and population increases boost demand for cover, said Wu Xiaoping, vice chairman of the insurance regulator.

Insurance policy sales in the country may rise eight times in the next 16 years from 388 billion yuan last year, he said.

The unit of Shin Kong Financial Holdings Co (新光金控), which last month forecast it will post a profit of NT$5.3 billion (US$151 million) this year, had held talks with China Travel Service (Holdings) Hong Kong Ltd, Chen said.

The discussions with the unit of China's official travel agency have since been terminated, he said.

China fully opens up its insurance market to overseas competition from the end of next year.

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