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AIA value of new business up 22 percent quarter-on-quarter

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AIA Group Limited (the “Company”; stock code: 1299) announces key new business indicators for the third quarter ended 30 September 2020.

KEY FINANCIAL SUMMARY

= Value of new business (VONB) of US$706 million, up 22 per cent

= Annualised new premiums (ANP) grew 21 per cent to US$1,359 million

= VONB margin of 51.6 per cent, consistent with the second quarter of 2020

= Total weighted premium income (TWPI) up 7 per cent from the third quarter of 2019

 

Lee Yuan Siong, AIA’s Group Chief Executive and President, said:

“The Group has delivered strong sequential growth in the third quarter with VONB up 22 per cent compared to the second quarter, building on the strong momentum as restrictions eased. TWPI grew 7 per cent year-on-year and our in-force business continues to demonstrate resilience with strong persistency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been well controlled in many of the markets where AIA operates, following the easing of containment measures. While remote completion continues to account for a significant proportion of new business in some markets, we have generally seen an increase in the proportion of our sales sourced from face-to-face meetings.

“Working practices have changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic. For example, the Group’s travel costs were down 75 per cent in the third quarter compared to last year while collaboration and connectivity across the Group have increased markedly. In the last 30 days, our people conducted close to 280,000 video calls and one million online audio calls, a step change from previous practices.

“Embracing technology, including the associated changes to our ways of working, is an essential part of our strategic goal to transform AIA. While still early in this multi-year journey, we are making good progress.

“Some of our businesses are already highly digital, allowing them to adapt quickly and deliver strong results even during this exceptional operating environment. For example, our joint venture in India, Tata AIA Life, generated excellent year-on-year VONB growth in the third quarter despite the continuing lockdowns, helped by wide adoption of new remote selling capabilities. Moving the recruitment process online at AIA China has also helped achieve very strong growth in new agency recruits in 2020 as we grow capacity across the business.

“We have made significant strategic progress in the last few months. Our Mainland China business achieved a landmark as we successfully completed the conversion to a wholly-owned life insurance subsidiary on 1 October.

“I am delighted that AIA China was recently granted approval by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission to begin preparations to establish a new branch in Sichuan. This new branch will be our first branch in Western China and is the first step in our ambitious plans to expand the geographical coverage of AIA China.”

“The Group also announced a long-term strategic partnership with Practo Pte. Ltd., India’s leading digital healthcare platform with a network of 70,000 top-tier hospitals and clinics, and Tata AIA Life extended our strategic partnership with IndusInd Bank Limited for a further 10 years.

“I am very proud that AIA continues to provide peace of mind and security to our millions of customers and that our businesses have adapted with speed and agility to the rapidly-changing operating environment. Our teams are working hard every day to deliver our strategic plans and transform AIA into a simpler, faster, more connected organisation. While the near-term outlook for the pandemic continues to be uncertain, I am confident that AIA is well positioned to leverage the structural growth drivers of life and health insurance across Asia, delivering long-term sustainable value for our shareholders and enabling Healthier, Longer, Better Lives for our customers.”

 

SUMMARY FOR THE THIRD QUARTER

In the third quarter of 2020, the Group delivered strong momentum in new business sales. VONB increased by 22 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2020, driven by sequential quarter-on-quarter growth from almost all of our markets. VONB margin was consistent with the second quarter as the reduction from economic assumption changes and geographical mix shifts was offset by reduced acquisition expense overruns as quarterly sales momentum improved. Across our agency businesses, we have continued to build future capacity with new recruits up more than 20 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2019.

While sales volumes during the first nine months of 2020 were lower than for the same period last year, the overall scale of our in-force business has continued to increase. TWPI of US$8,797 million increased 7 per cent compared with the third quarter of 2019. Persistency has remained strong and, in the third quarter, there has been an improvement in the adverse lapse experience in the first half of the year for our operations in Thailand and Malaysia. The positive medical claims experience that we reported for the Group in the first half of 2020 has also normalised in the third quarter and experience was in line with our expectations .

The third quarter of 2020 marked a historic change for AIA China, beginning with the incorporation of our new subsidiary in Mainland China on 9 July. Our people worked tirelessly on the conversion process, which included coordination with more than 2,000 counterparties and 150 government departments across the country. Within three months of its incorporation, AIA Life Insurance Company Limited assumed operational control of our business in Mainland China on 1 October. This new corporate structure is critical for delivering our ambitious expansion plans and, following regulatory approval, we are now progressing with preparations for our new branch in Sichuan. In the third quarter, VONB from AIA China was broadly similar to the second quarter before allowing for 5 per cent withholding tax, which has been applied since 9 July. AIA China remained the largest contributor to the Group’s VONB. In the first nine months of 2020, we have continued to grow our high-quality Premier Agency force and our disciplined execution has achieved a double-digit increase in new recruits, total agents and also agency leaders.

Our business in Hong Kong delivered modest quarter-on-quarter growth in VONB, driven by increased sales to our domestic customer segment. Sales to Mainland Chinese visitors remained close to zero in the third quarter given the ongoing mandatory quarantine requirement.

AIA Thailand achieved strong quarter-on-quarter growth in the third quarter as sales momentum returned to both agency and bancassurance channels. Our businesses in Singapore and Malaysia delivered excellent quarter-on-quarter growth with VONB more than double the second quarter and also significantly above the third quarter of 2019.

The easing of movement restrictions across many markets supported excellent quarter-on-quarter growth in VONB for our Other Markets segment. Tata AIA Life achieved excellent year-on-year growth on a like-for-like basis despite the ongoing disruption to the Indian economy from the pandemic and has now become the market leader in retail protection business. All of our other individual markets in this segment delivered quarter-on-quarter growth in VONB.

 

OUTLOOK

After the sharp contraction in the global economy in the first half of 2020, some countries have returned to growth in the third quarter, including Mainland China. Economic recovery has diverged significantly at the country level, driven by the effectiveness of pandemic containment measures and government policies as well as the importance and competitiveness of manufacturing industries. The medium-term outlook remains highly uncertain given COVID-19 infections have been rising in many countries and political and trade tensions remain elevated. However, the demand for AIA’s products and services will continue to grow over the long term, powered by the structural drivers of rising wealth, low insurance penetration levels and limited social welfare across Asia. AIA is uniquely positioned through our powerful distribution, differentiated propositions, leading brand and financial strength to capture the enormous long-term opportunities in the Asian life and health insurance market.

 

FOREIGN EXCHANGE VOLATILITY

AIA receives the vast majority of its premiums in local currencies and we closely match our local assets and liabilities to minimise the economic effects of foreign exchange movements. When reporting the Group’s consolidated figures, there is a currency translation effect as we report in US dollars. We have provided growth rates and commentaries on CER unless otherwise stated, since this provides a clearer picture of the underlying performance of the businesses.

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Union Assurance empowers its policyholders by introducing free COVID-19 life coverage

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Union Assurance PLC being one of the largest insurance solution providers in Sri Lanka has further established their commitment towards the nation by staying true to its promise, ‘Your Life, Our Strength’. In turbulent times such as COVID-19, the company has taken initiative to persevere and adapt by responding to customers’ needs irrespective of the unanticipated circumstances presented.

The free COVID-19 cover has been reinstated to support both existing and new policyholders to ensure additional protection during these uncertain times. The cover provides a free death cover up to a maximum of LKR 1 million per policyholder. This free cover is valid for a period of one month commencing from 02nd November 2020 to 01st December 2020.
Union Assurance was also recognized as one of the first life insurance companies to offer hospital cash benefits for quarantine treatments since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka. The company therefore assures all its valued policyholders this initiative would be continued in which hospitalization per day claims directly resulting from COVID-19 will be considered from 20th October to 31st December 2020.

Amidst grave adversity Union Assurance strives to provide its unwavering commitment in offering the best in class protection coverages to its policyholders while ensuring that their families are financially empowered to face any challenge and uncertainty.

Jude Gomes, Chief Executive Officer of Union Assurance stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health, economic and social crisis and has affected people from all walks of life. We offer this timely protection cover free of charge to provide our policyholders the added peace of mind that the future of their families will be secured during these uncertain times. The specialty of this cover is that it is not just limited to our existing policyholders but is also offered to new customers and thereby giving Sri Lankans access to secure the future of their families.”

To obtain more information about this free COIVD 19 cover, call the Union Assurance 24-hour hotline on 1330, email: info@unionassurance.com; or chat with the company on www.unionassurance.com
Union Assurance is the oldest private life insurer in Sri Lanka, and is a member of the John Keells Group, Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate. Union Assurance completes over three decades of success in the industry with a market capitalization of Rs. 18 Bn, a Life Fund of Rs. 38 Bn and a Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 434% as at August 2020. Set to empower the Sri Lankan Dream, Union Assurance offers Life Insurance solutions that cover education, health, protection, retirement, and investment needs of Sri Lankans. With 76 branches and an over 3000-strong workforce, Union Assurance continues to invest in people, products, and processes to remain agile and responsive to emerging changes in the Life Insurance industry.

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Ideal Industries acquires home grown e- commerce major Takas.lk

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Ideal Group, headed by visionary entrepreneur Nalin Welgama, in keeping with his ethos of growth through innovation, made a move pertinent with the “new normal” by acquiring one of the pioneers in the Sri Lankan e commerce industry, Takas.lk.

Having invested heavily in developing capacity in the Sri Lankan automotive sector, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Ideal Group of Companies, Nalin Welgama, is determined that a Sri Lankan built and operated company be in the forefront of e-commerce in Sri Lanka. “The Ideal Group has and always will be driven by innovation, hence our foray into the digital space with Takas.lk is both timely and appropriate, said Welgama. “We promise to strengthen Takas.lk, making it the most valuable e commerce company in Sri Lanka. The collaborative synergies of the Ideal Group of Company’s island wide touch points will further enable us to provide an unmatched service, hitherto not experienced”.

Takas.lk commenced operations in 2012 and since then has grown to be a household name in Sri Lanka. Indeed, Takas was the first company to introduce cash on delivery (COD), and enable the tokenization of credit cards. Since inception Takas has taken great pride in being a Sri Lankan company that has served Sri Lankans both here and abroad, adding value and giving satisfaction. Furthermore, the technology stack-which Takas operates on has been built completely in-house, and to date has enabled e-commerce businesses in Sri Lanka as well as overseas markets .

Speaking at the launch which was limited to a few stakeholders due to the Covid situation, Founder and Executive Chairman, Ideal Group of Companies, Nalin Welgama said “e commerce is the way of the future and is the new normal. e-commerce is here to stay, and even when the Covid situation eases, our life styles and methods of business have been irrevocably transformed. We will focus on expanding market share as more companies move their businesses online. What will be key from here onwards will be sustainability of demand from newly acquired merchants. The Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated the trend of online shopping and with it the gross merchandise volumes. Therefore we must capitalise on the prevailing strong e-commerce trends and provide many businesses a life line during these challenging macro economic conditions.”

As per statistics, Sri Lanka’s annual domestic e-commerce sales value including services is an estimated US$40-60 million. This is expected to grow to $400 million by 2022-23. “Currently, only 0.3% of Sri Lanka’s total annual retail sales ( $13 billion) are via e-commerce, thus the opportunity is huge”.

 

Takas.lk is known for its large manage-market place for electronics and under the new ownership will expand on this range of products.

Since it’s acquisition by the Ideal Group, Takas.lk has quickly expanded into the gift giving segment, daily essentials, and cakes/flowers. ” We will be working with Sri Lankan suppliers and empowering them, giving them the ability to function on a basis of ‘business as usual’ during these difficult times”. Takas’ new location on Rosmead place too is more convenient and better equipped to service their customers.

 

Subsequent to the acquisition, the existing Takas.lk management team including Lahiru Pathmalal will remain to guide the company through its transition and will work together with the Ideal team for a stipulated period in their current roles, ensuring a seamless transition. Commenting on the acquisition, Co founder Takas.lk, Lahiru Pathmalal said, “having been a part of Takas.lk from day one, I have a strong understanding of the key operations required for the success of Takas. I like to think I have a creative approach to the industry, and this combined with the wealth of resources the Ideal Group brings to play in the e-commerce game, makes me excited and motivated to help shape its future.”

Under it’s new mantle, Takas.lk has a vision of becoming ‘The’ one stop-shop for all consumer requirements and is committed to follow a service first philosophy!

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SLT Mobitel awarded prestigious ‘Project Management Excellence Award – 2020’ by PMI

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SLT Mobitel, achieved yet another significant milestone by bagging the most esteemed Project Excellence Award (PMI) 2020, by the Project Management Institute (PMI) for its Stage VIII Project themed “Project Rural MPowerment”.

Conceptualized to empower every Sri Lankan with digital inclusivity, the project facilitated rural areas by providing 4G technology across the country. Having embarked on the project in 2018 with two leading strategic partners, namely, Huawei and ZTE, the Mobitel team concluded the project 5 months ahead of its planned schedule. This multi-million-dollar endeavor involved establishing 5400+ base stations including over 3000 4G LTE nodes. As a result, people in and around the rural areas were provided with supreme connectivity and extended broadband coverage.

In 2019 alone, Mobitel made an investment of over USD 100 million in expanding its network and will invest another USD 25 million in 2020 to provide superior connectivity and broadband experience to every Sri Lankan. Having completed just before the COVID-19 outbreak, the project enabled school children to continue their education through e-Learning platforms and helped the corporate sector to adopt to the WFH concept with no interruptions. Further, the project not only enabled people in rural areas to connect with the world but also empowered the SME sector by facilitating them with broadband accessibility thus increasing their contribution to the national economy.

Commenting on the achievement, Lalith Seneviratne, Group CEO, Sri Lanka Telecom Group said “Being recognized internationally for a national level project by the Project Management Institute is a tremendous honor, and I would like to thank the Team Mobitel for their untiring commitment, dedication and loyalty to complete this project in record time. This high level of achievement has not only brought glory to Sri Lanka but has also shown that the skills and capabilities of local professionals to compete in the international market as well. I would like to thank our valued stakeholders, government officials and the PMI Sri Lanka Colombo Division, who went above and beyond duty extending their invaluable support in helping us to secure this coveted accolade”.

(SLT)

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