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EC News Asia Edition (28th November 2018)

Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Allianz, Aon, JLT Re and more.

Allianz established China’s first wholly foreign-owned insurer

Allianz has received approval from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) for the preparatory establishment of an insurance holding company in China.

The company, Allianz (China) Insurance Holding Company, will be China’s first-ever wholly-owned insurance holding company by a foreign insurer, and will be based in Shanghai, according to a corporate statement.

The firm is expected to be established in 2019.

Allianz said that the move is part of its long-term commitment to China by enhancing its strategic and financial flexibility to capture business opportunities and drive long-term success in the market. Allianz has served the Chinese market since the early 1910s.

The regulatory approval follows a series of measures recently announced by the Chinese government to further open up and encourage investment in China by foreign financial insurance institutions.

Oliver Bäte, CEO Allianz Group said: “Allianz is proud to be the first foreign insurer to commence the establishment of a holding company in China - a significant milestone for us to expand our presence in this strategic market,"

"Today’s announcement also follows the positive long-term cooperation between China and Germany, allowing our Chinese and international clients to be able to enjoy Allianz’s comprehensive financial and risk management solutions and services, and benefit from the continued growth and liberalization of China’s financial markets.”

George Sartorel, regional CEO for Asia Pacific, Allianz, commented: “China is central to our growth strategy for Asia, this development positions Allianz strongly to combine our global knowledge with deep insights into local consumer and industry needs. We look forward to contributing to the continued development and innovation of China’s fast-growing insurance sector, as well as to better serve Chinese customers and communities."

Chinese InsurTech firm WeSure partners with 20 (re)insurers

WeSure, the insurance platform owned by Chinese investment conglomerate Tencent, has expanded its line of products and formed partnerships with 20 (re)insurance companies.

The firm’s platform is hosted in the WeChat Mini Program ecosystem, part of Tencent’s Chinese multi-purpose messaging application that has more than one billion monthly users.

WeSure said it plans to further build on the data-driven and social connection features of the WeChat application to recommend more suitable insurance products to users, while the new (re)insurance partnerships will help it to continue to diversify its offerings.

Alan Lau, chairman and CEO of WeSure said: “So far we have formed partnerships with more than 20 insurance companies, including Taikang, Pacific Insurance, PICC, Ping An, MetLife, and more. We will continue to widen our offerings and take a user angle to pre-select and customize products,”

He continued: “We aim to make insurance far more user-centric than before – transparent terms, easy purchase process, affordable prices, and fun experience, so it is easier for users to access, understand and choose the right insurance product on WeSure.”

WeSure has over 20 million monthly active users on the WeChat platform and has launched products in the health, auto, life and travel spaces, using partnerships to help develop new products in just 1.5 to 2 months, on average.

The firms said it intends to continue to develop further simple and customisable products for its portfolio, supported by the large-scale payment platform and core technologies of Tencent.

Tencent recently released its third quarter results, posting profit attributable to equity holders of RMB 19,710mn (US $2,865mn), representing an increase of 15 percent year-on-year.

Allianz extends CEO Bäte's contract to 2024

The supervisory board of Allianz has extended CEO Oliver Bäte’s contract as chairman of the board of management until September 2024.

Bäte's original contract was set to terminate at the end of September 2019.

Michael Diekmann, chairman of the supervisory board commented: “Under Mr. Bäte’s leadership, Allianz has developed extremely well over the past three years. The supervisory board is convinced that he is the right chairman of the board of management for the challenges ahead.”

Bäte said: “I am very pleased with the trust placed in me. It confirms that the path we have taken and our strategic approach are right. Together with my colleagues, I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that Allianz stays successful in the future.”

Aon appoints Jones as executive chairman of its Asia reinsurance solutions team

Aon has strengthened its Asia Reinsurance Solutions team with the appointment of Richard Jones as executive chairman.

Jones will be responsible for business development and supporting clients across the Asia region. 

Based in Singapore, Jones will join Aon in May 2019 and will report to George Attard, CEO Asia of Aon’s reinsurance solutions business. 

He most recently served as chairman of Asia Pacific at Guy Carpenter, where he spent the past 31 years working across a variety of roles, having been based in Asia for the past 17 years.

JLT Re CEO steps down   

Mike Reynolds has stepped down from his role as CEO of JLT Re.

JLT Re has given no indication of the motivation behind Reynolds departure, but it was announced that the company’s current chairman, Ross Howard, will join Guy Carpenter as vice chairman.

JLT Re will be integrated with Guy Carpenter, following the completion of the acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) Group by Marsh and McLennan, Guy Carpenter’s parent company.

The acquisition remains subject to the receipt of certain antitrust and financial regulatory approvals.

Commenting on the departure of Reynolds, JLT Group CEO, Dominic Burke shared: “On behalf of everyone at JLT, I should like to thank Mike Reynolds for the enormous contribution he has made as CEO of JLT Re, and wish him the very best for the future.”

Generali names K. G. Krishnamoorthy Rao as Malaysia CEO

Generali Asia has appointed K. G. Krishnamoorthy Rao as CEO of MPI Generali Insurans Bhd in Malaysia, succeeding Oliver Tan who has left the company to pursue new opportunities.

In his new role, Rao will be responsible for the overall insurance operations of MPI Generali and will drive the strategic growth plans for the company.

Before his appointment, Rao was managing director and CEO of Future Generali India Insurance Company Limited (FGII), a joint venture between Future Group and Generali Group, where he was responsible for the execution of the company’s strategy for growth with profitability.

In Rao’s absence, Shreeraj Deshpande has been named as interim head of FGII, in addition to his current roles as senior vice president and head of operations, customer service and health insurance.

JLT Re’s Howard named Guy Carpenter vice chair

JLT Re chairman Ross Howard is set to become vice chairman of Guy Carpenter following the completion of Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC)’s £4.3bn acquisition of JLT.

In his new role, Howard will be responsible for developing new business opportunities and assisting with client relationships in order to continue the growth of the combined global reinsurance business, as well as playing a key role in executing the integration of JLT Re with Guy Carpenter.

He will also become a member of Guy Carpenter’s executive committee and will report to the reinsurance broker’s president and CEO, Peter Hearn.

The latest integration news comes after MMC unveiled last week that it would merge the specialty teams of Marsh and JLT into one combined specialty business, Marsh-JLT Specialty, with JLT Group CEO Dominic Burke and JLT Specialty CEO Lucy Clarke being named chairman and president of the new unit, respectively.

Commenting on Howard’s appointment, Hearn said: “We are very excited to take the first steps in bringing together these two great reinsurance businesses. 

“I have known Ross in the market over the years and believe he will play a pivotal role in the success of the combined organisation, driving growth and global collaboration, while further differentiating our client value proposition. I am very pleased to welcome Ross to our leadership team.”

Howard remarked: “I am delighted at the prospect of joining Guy Carpenter’s industry-leading executive team and look forward to adding a complementary perspective and diversity of thought that will deliver greater value and profitable growth to clients.”

MMC’s acquisition of JLT is expected to close in spring 2019.