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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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An all-party government can’t fix the problem quickly, Harsha tells foreign media

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* IMF bailout is not coming any time soon

* Opposition is caught between a rock and a hard place

*  We have to fix the twin deficits

* Unless there is agreement across political parties, we can’t get it done

By Sanath Nanayakkare

Opposition Member of Parliament Dr. Harsha de Silva discussed the crises facing Sri Lanka with Bloomberg Market Asia recently where he said an all-party government would have legitimacy unlike the current administration and would give hope to the people of this country, but there is no guarantee that it can fix the problem quickly.

The interview he had with Bloomberg went as follows.

Q. How close is Sri Lanka to an IMF bailout?

The issue is not about an IMF bailout. It is about restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt. We have to restructure our debt with multiple parties such as official creditors, the republic of China, private creditors, international sovereign bond holders etc. So, unless we have either a debt restructuring deal or significant progress towards a restructuring deal, the IMF will not be able to release any money under an Extended Fund Facility even if there is a staff- level agreement any time soon.

Q. You are suggesting that the IMF bailout is not coming any time soon. How will that play out in the economy?

We have hired Lazard’s and Clifford Chance to help us deal with debt restructuring. They have not really started negotiating, and already one creditor- Hamilton Reserve Bank Ltd has filed a suit in a New York federal court against the government of Sri Lanka asking for its full payment of USD 250 million due on 25th July because we have a debt standstill. ‘Significant progress’ [perhaps referring to a term in the IMF end-of-mission statement regarding the outcome of the talks in Sri Lanka] is a subjective term. The IMF is not able to lend to us. So I am thinking perhaps this is going to take at least 5-6 months before any money would start to flow in.

Q. The economic crisis is turning into a political one. What is the Opposition doing right now to perhaps take the reins of power and make things better? What would you do if you were in power and what you want to be doing because the Opposition is going to be blamed for all hardships that are going to ensue from here?

Yes, we are caught between a rock and a hard place here. What the Opposition is going to do is try and get all Opposition parties together, which I hope will happen this week. The President isn’t willing to budge despite protests across the country asking him to step down. If that happens, it’s quite possible that an all-party government can take over and start running the country. There is no guarantee that an all-party government can fix the problem quickly, but at least there will be hope that there’s a government with legitimacy both internally and externally because right now there seems to be no legitimacy for this government. That’s what we are trying to do right now.

Q. So you like to see a government of national unity but the thing is; you will not get that for the time being. So what do you think should be at the top of the economic agenda to get things going? For instance; inflation is running at almost hyper-inflation level while there’s no fuel. It sounds like a terrible situation.

Yes, this is totally unprecedented. You know until recently Sri Lanka was an upper middle income country and today we have suddenly crashed to the bottom. For us, this is unbelievable. But in a way it was expected because over a long period of time economic reforms were postponed and postponed and postponed, and we were living beyond our means. The real breakdown happened when the President cut taxes and now we are running a massive hole in our fiscal budget and also a big hole in our current account and our Balance of Payments (BOP). We have to fix this. Without fixing these two things there is no way out. So the parliament will have to agree on undertaking large fiscal consolidation measures such as increasing taxes, rationalising subsidies/expenses and so on. So unless there is agreement across political parties, we can’t get it done and there is going to be a very difficult time negotiating the debt. Unless our debt is negotiated, we are not able to get money from the IMF. We are waiting for friendly countries and neighbours to help us but it won’t take us far.

Q. How is the Opposition assessing the proposed constitutional changes? Is it willing to vote for these reforms in parliament?

We are extremely disappointed. The President said on May 11 that he would take the country back to 19th Amendment which meant that powers he grabbed from parliament in 2020 would be restored to parliament. That’s what the people wanted because he himself admitted in public that he has not been successful in managing the country. People wanted that power to be restored to parliament and to democratise the country, but the President is not going to do that in the proposed 22nd Amendment. So we are disappointed. We want the new amendment to go through, but not this way. It should be done in the way it was pledged.

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PM’s rising debt ratio statement hits share market; CSE drops by over 1 per cent

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The CSE dropped by over 1 per cent within the first hour of trading yesterday in the wake of selling pressure from local and foreign investors stemming from the country’s prevailing political and social uncertainties. The pall of gloom over the market was compounded by a statement in parliament by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to the effect that Sri Lanka’s debt has shot up to 140 per cent of its gross domestic product.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka is making progress towards a 4- year Extended Fund Facility with the International Monetary Fund. “With the IMF we hope to reduce it (debt) to 95 per cent of GDP by 2032, Wickremesinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s government debt which was Rs17,580 billion by end 2021 rose to Rs21,969 billion in March 2022, he added.

Stock analysts said that Sri Lanka’s economic uncertainties are bound to be compounded by a potential global economic recession that would likely affect the US and Europe.

Amid those developments both indices showed a downward trend. The All- Share Price Index went down by 120.9 points and S and P SL20 declined by 55.6 points. Turnover stood at Rs 916 million, without any crossings.

In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Lanka IOC Rs 330 million (four million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 121 million (740,000 shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 54.7 million (142,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 47.3 million (6.8 million shares traded), HNB Rs 36.6 million (459,000 shares traded), Elpitiya Plantations Rs 26.2 million (334,000 shares traded) and LOLC Finance Rs 23.3 million (3.7 million shares traded). During the day 52.5 million share volumes changed hands in 15000 share transactions.

Yesterday the Central Bank announced the US dollar rate. Its buying rate was Rs 355.95 and the selling rate Rs 367.29.

A guidance peg announced by the Central Bank for interbank transactions was steady at Rs 359.79 against the US dollar unchanged from a day earlier. On July 04, the guidance peg rate dropped 24 cents to Rs 359.79 against the US dollar.

Sri Lanka commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at rates between Rs 366.79 and Rs 370.00 for small transactions yesterday, unchanged from the previous day.

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SLT-MOBITEL debuts ‘Traverse’ – Sri Lanka’s first Virtual City

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A vibrant marketplace for the digital economy

Recognising the strategic value of leveraging disruptive technologies and harnessing service offerings from a diverse supplier base, SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider debuted ‘Traverse’, Sri Lanka’s first Virtual City at the ‘Wyawasaya-2022’ Trade and Educational Exhibition held recently.

Fashioned as a city of the future, Traverse will function integrating physical and digital experiences, operating in the metaverse with matchless potential for global and borderless collaboration.

‘Traverse’ aims to provide remarkable opportunities for growth and a platform for innovation while helping Sri Lankan businesses to increase their relevance and value in the fast-expanding digital economy.

The rapid evolution of emerging and exciting technologies such as virtual reality, virtual marketplaces, digital assets and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs is providing an effective platform to deliver unique consumer experiences and drive local economic growth.

‘Traverse’ will include a shopping complex, Banks, Virtual exhibition Centre, Film Hall, Gaming zone, Government e-counters, Art gallery, etc. Business owners can purchase or rent business assets from the categories available in the virtual marketspace based on their requirements.

Adding greater value for the local business community, the Virtual City will help businesses unlock strategic partnerships and boost profitability through untapped revenue streams. Moreover, local businesses will be able to reach global audiences through cost-effective, scalable, and measurable techniques that require low investment and reduced maintenance costs. An added advantage of the Virtual City is creating a global marketplace for Sri Lankan products and services.

Recognised as a true differentiator steering digital transformation, SLT-MOBITEL is driving the country’s first experience of a virtual city by creating a crowded environment. Benefits include long-lasting exposure to an expansive market, facilitating real-time conversation using webinars and live chats, easy access on all platforms, flexibility to promote offerings together with access to trending analytics.

Unveiling the Virtual City, highlights SLT-MOBITEL’s role as an agile, innovative and digital-first provider of services, creating a dynamic roadmap with disruptive technologies driving the country’s first virtual marketplace forward.

SLT-MOBITEL invites stakeholders to collaborate and partner in this unique virtual space. For more details on ‘Traverse’ contact the hotline on 0112 389 389, WhatsApp 070 500 4000 or email: bizsolutions@slt.com.lk / Web: https://traverse.lk

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