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All 20 largest Asia-Pacific insurers post double-digit drop in Q1 market cap

All 20 largest Asia-Pacific insurers saw their market capitalization fall by double digits in the quarter ended March 31 from the prior quarter, as the industry grappled with the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic.

"Claims costs will likely be specific to the classes of business an insurer writes and their policy wordings. However, the bigger-picture concern is how the outbreak might affect the economic environment — specifically, prospects for growth and profitability in insurers' underwriting and investment portfolios," according to a March 18 research report by Deloitte & Touche LLP.

The rankings of the top seven remained unchanged. Among them, China Life Insurance Co. Ltd., the third-largest Asia-Pacific insurer, posted the biggest quarter-over-quarter market capitalization decline of 26.7% at US$92.02 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. It was followed by a 24.6% decline at China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co. Ltd. and 20.1% at PICC Property & Casualty Co. Ltd.

Among Japanese insurers, Sony Financial Holdings Inc. reported the biggest drop of 30.5% quarter over quarter to US$7.39 billion as of March-end.

Indian insurers posted some of the biggest declines on the top list.

Bajaj Finserv Ltd. recorded the sharpest decline with a quarter-over-quarter drop of 51.1% of market capitalization to US$9.70 billion. The company also recorded a 51.1% in negative total return, the worst-performing stock on the list.

HDFC Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd. also saw their market capitalization down by 29.4% and 33.4% to US$11.84 billion and US$8.51 billion, respectively.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's AIA Group Ltd. and Japan's MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. recorded the lowest negative total return of 14.2% for the period.

Among S&P Global Market Intelligence's three featured regional indexes, SNL Japan Insurance was the best performer with a negative total return of 19.5% at the end of the first quarter. The SNL Asia Pacific Insurance and SNL Asia Pac ex-Japan Insurance saw negative total return of 23.1% and 23.8%, respectively, for the same period.

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