Profits for China’s largest insurer Ping An Insurance Group increased 63.2% during the first three quarters of the year compared with the same period in 2018, according to its earnings released on Thursday. However, share prices fell as investors reacted to slowing growth in its core insurance business.
Why it matters: In addition to its main insurance business, Ping An has been eager to rebrand itself as a tech-driven financial service provider. The development of technology-based services has been a key focus over the past few years, yet the payoff has been slow in coming.
“Under the ‘finance + technology’ and ‘finance + ecosystem’ strategies, Ping An will proactively develop its five ecosystems, increase [research and development] R & D investment, promote data-driven smart management, and offer excellent products and services to customers… Ping An will strive to become a world-leading technology-powered retail financial services group.”
—Peter Ma, chairman and CEO of Ping An Insurance Group
Details: For the first nine months of 2019, Ping An’s technology business brought in RMB 60 billion ($8.5 billion) in revenue, up 33.1% year on year. However, its contribution to operating profit fell to 3.9% from 6.3% a year earlier. In contrast, Ping An’s insurance business—life and health, and property and casualty—accounted for 79.3% of profits.
- Ping An is in the process of establishing a technology-powered consumer finance joint venture.
- OneConnect, Ping An’s fintech arm, had served 99% of city commercial banks and 84 insurance firms or 46% of insurers in China as of September 30, 2019.
- Online peer-to-peer lender Lufax’s balance of loans under management increased 17.7% year-to-date to RMB 441.21 billion.
- The company appointed Xie Yonglin as president on Thursday, Caixin Global reported. Xie played a significant role in the company’s technology transformation, and he also serves the chairman of Ping An Banks.
- Both Shanghai and Hong Kong markets reacted to a slower-than-expected increase in new business values, which decelerated to 4.5% year on year for its main life insurance business segment from 4.7% year on year in the first half.
- Ping An shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange declined 2.1% on Thursday afternoon, while its shares listed in Hong Kong fell 3.5% during the same period.
Context: The company commits 1% of its revenue to fintech and healthtech R & D. At the end of 2018, the company had poured $7 billion into technology-based services and expects to invest a total of RMB 100 billion ($15 billion) in the coming decade.
- The Shenzhen-based OneConnect has been planning its initial public offering (IPO) since the start of the year.
- Ping An’s healthtech arm Good Doctor went public in Hong Kong last year but has yet to turn a profit. The company posted a net loss of RMB 274 million in the first half of 2019.