Aviva, Tencent seek licence for Asian digital insurer

Added 3rd August 2017

UK insurance giant Aviva and Chinese tech firm Tencent are seeking regulatory approval for a new joint venture partnership along with private equity firm Hillhouse Capital, which plans to develop an online insurance company in Hong Kong.

 Aviva, Tencent seek licence for Asian digital insurer

Aviva said the plan was to disrupt a market that has traditionally been dominated by agency and bancassurance channels and drive digital transformation across the region.

“We remain committed to being a disruptor in our own industry,” said Chris Wei, executive chairman of Aviva Asia & FPI and global chairman of Aviva Digital.

“We have also introduced our venture capital fund, Aviva Ventures, in Asia with the objective of supporting start-ups that are at the forefront of innovation, and we are seeing good progress here,” he said in an announcement accompanying Aviva Asia’s financial results for the first six months of 2017.

In January Aviva agreed to sell two thirds of its Hong Kong life business to Tencent and Hillhouse Capital in a deal that was designed to set up the new digital insurer. The sale left Aviva Hong Kong with a 40% stake, while Tencent owns 20% and Hillhouse 40%.

New directions 

“New opportunities are emerging in Asia and we continue to invest significantly in the region where we see strong potential for growth,” said Wei.

“This remains a strategic priority for Aviva.”.

“With their low insurance penetrations, fast growing economies, expanding middle classes and rising number of high net worth individuals, we want to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented in these markets,” he said.

Wei said he believed digital was the future for insurance and held great potential in terms of the benefits it can bring, in term sof making insurance simpler and more convenient.

Solid growth

The latest results for Aviva Asia for the six months to 30 June 2017 showed the company performing well in the key market of China and Singapore.

The value of new business (VNB) in China, which includes Hong Kong, increased by 119% to £31m ($39m) driven by changes in the product mix towards the higher margin protection business, and growth in its agency and broker channels.

In Singapore VNB improved by 14% to £44m ($55m) following the successful launch of new distribution channels (Aviva Financial Advisers and Affinity channel), as well as growth in group business.

Aviva Asia's operating profit from life, general insurance and health businesses was little changed at £115 million ($145m), up from £112m in the first half of 2016.

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Richard Hubbard

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Richard Hubbard is the group editor at Last Word. He is responsible for the editorial content of International Adviser, Portfolio Adviser, Expert Investor and Fund Selector Asia. Richard previously worked for Thomson Reuters and has covered the financial services industry and investment themes from its offices in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York. Richard started his career at the Australian Financial Review in Sydney.

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