China’s Ping An Insurance Reports Profit Up 20.6%

November 1, 2012

Ping An Insurance Co. of China said its quarterly profit rose 20.6 percent on strong premium growth but warned tougher conditions are ahead.

Ping An said it earned 2.1 billion yuan ($337 million) in the three months ending Sept. 30.

Life insurance premiums rose 9.8 percent over a year earlier while those for property and casualty soared 20 percent despite China’s slowing economic growth, said Ping An, which is headquartered in the southern financial center of Shenzhen.

The company warned, however, that economic conditions were worsening and competition would intensify.

China’s economic growth slowed to a three-and-a-half-year low of 7.4 percent in the latest quarter. Forecasters expect improvement later this year but say a rebound is likely to be gradual and weak.

The slowing economy and higher operating costs “have brought formidable challenges for the development of the financial industry,” said Ping An in a statement.

“The overall growth of the insurance industry will be slowing down, the competition in the banking industry will continue to be intense and the capital markets are expected to remain volatile.”

Ping An is China’s second-biggest life insurer by premiums after China Life Insurance Co. Ping An has tried to diversify in recent years by developing a banking and credit card business.

Ping An said its banking unit, Ping An Bank Co., contributed 5.2 billion yuan ($832 million) to its 21.4 billion yuan ($3.4 billion) in profit for the first three quarters of the year.

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