Taiwan’s life insurers have refrained from aggressively building up their reserve to protect against foreign exchange volatility introduced in March last year, reflecting limited desires and flexibility to alter hedging strategies, according to Taiwan Ratings Corp (中華信評), Standard & Poor’s local arm.
The reserve pool accounts for a mere 0.38 percent of domestic life insurers’ overseas investments as of September last year, down from 0.5 percent in March the same year, when they were first allowed to set aside the fund, the ratings agency said.
“Until the fund grows substantially, it can provide only marginal support to insurers’ bottom lines,” Taiwan Ratings’ credit analyst Patty Wang (王珮齡) said, attributing the drop in reserves to rapid growth in overseas investments.
The reserve fund is intended to counter the negative impact of severe foreign exchange fluctuations on their assets.
The slow build-up of reserves indicates that domestic life insurers may keep their prudent hedging strategies unchanged in the coming one to two years, Wang said, adding that they are generally exposed to higher foreign exchange risks than regional peers because of their large overseas exposure and higher rate of currency-mismatch problems.
“We don’t expect the pool to expand rapidly in the near future unless insurers are willing to sacrifice their earnings to make additional provisions,” Wang said.
The small reserve pool restricts hedging flexibility and life insurers are unlikely to lower their hedged positions drastically to save hedging costs in the absence of a strong foreign exchange buffer, Wang said.
Life insurers would have to substantially increase their foreign exchange reserves if they want to more effectively cushion against foreign exchange losses, Wang said.
Consequently, the use of the reserve may not trigger rating actions in the coming one to two years even though drastic changes in foreign exchange risk-taking behavior will impact credit profiles, Taiwan Ratings said.
The agency has assigned a negative rating outlook on local life insurers because of the sector’s volatile capitalization and lower earnings in comparison with Asian peers.
CHIP CRUNCH: Apple’s woes show that even the king of the technology world is not immune from global shortages made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic Apple Inc is likely to slash its projected iPhone 13 production targets for this year by as many as 10 million units as prolonged chip shortages hit its flagship product, people with knowledge of the matter said. The company had expected to produce 90 million new iPhone models in the final three months of this year, but it is now telling manufacturing partners that the total would be lower because Broadcom Inc and Texas Instruments Inc are struggling to deliver enough components, the people said. Apple gets display parts from Texas Instruments, while Broadcom is its longtime supplier of wireless components. One Texas
Units of Intel Corp and Samsung Electronics Co are targeting to resume full operations of their Ho Chi Minh City plants by the end of next month, a move that could provide relief to global supply chains. Saigon Hi-Tech Park is helping its tenants, many of which are running at about 70 percent capacity, to operate fully next month, park deputy manager Le Bich Loan said in a phone interview. She did not elaborate on the steps the park is taking, particularly efforts at bringing back workers who fled to home provinces. The Ho Chi Minh City unit of Nidec Sankyo Corp,
EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) and China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), the nation’s two major airlines, reported accelerated revenue growth in the third quarter compared with the previous two quarters, thanks to robust air cargo business. EVA Airways yesterday said sales for last quarter rose 40 percent year-on-year to NT$25.81 billion (US$917 million), compared with an increase of 25 percent in the second quarter and a fall of 35 percent in the first quarter. China Airlines said sales grew 39 percent to NT$34.6 billion in the third quarter, after gaining 10 percent in the second quarter and falling 14 percent in the first quarter. EVA
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) is embarking on a recruitment drive to hire 200,000 workers in Shenzhen, China, as it ramps up production of the new iPhone 13 series, Chinese business news outlet Eastmoney.com reported. Hon Hai is seeking to recruit those heading back to the city after China’s seven-day National Day holiday, which began on Oct. 1, to help churn out the estimated 100,000 iPhone 13s produced on the site each day, the report said. Following last month’s global release of the iPhone 13, Hon Hai entered its traditional peak season, and workers at its Chinese production sites are said