Ping An's profits fall sharply as pandemic hits new business


Ping An's H1 net profit falls almost 30% year-on-year

Says new insurance business hit by pandemic

Adds details, comments

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Ping An Insurance (Group) Co of China 601318.SS2318.HK on Thursday reported a 29.7% fall in first-half net profit compared with the same period the year before, its biggest drop in more than a decade as the coronavirus pandemic hit new insurance sales.

Ping An, the only Asian insurer deemed globally systemically important by regulators, said its net profit was 68.68 billion yuan ($9.98 billion) for the six months to June, according to a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday.

That compares to 97.68 billion yuan over the same period in 2019, which marks the biggest drop in first-half earnings since at least 2008, when they fell 11.9% in the first half of that year, Reuters calculations showed.

"So far 2020 has been challenging, having witnessed a complex fast-changing macro-environment, the dramatic impact of COVID-19, and highly volatile global markets," Ping An said in its interim report.

Though the disruptionof travel during COVID lockdowns had a positive impact on auto claims, the company said.

Gross written premiums at Ping An Insurance fell 0.2% year-on-year to 445.5 billion yuan in the first six months of the year, while the number of retail customers increased 4.6% from the beginning of 2020 to 210 million.

Investment income fell 16.7% to 78.21 billion yuan with a 1.1 percentage point cut in annualised yield, driven by "sharp year-on-year capital markets fluctuations", the company said.

Ping An's banking business, posted a 11.2% fall in profit in the first half from last year as it boosted loan loss provisions.

($1 = 6.8798 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Zhang Yan in Beijing, Engen Tham in Shanghai; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jane Merriman)

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