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AIA seeks to further expand in China, hire more agents

Hong Kong-based AIA Group Ltd. is seeking to further expand in mainland China, with plans to enter lesser-known cities in the country and hire more sales agents, the South China Morning Post reported Dec. 20, citing CEO Ng Keng-hooi.

The company operates in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and 14 cities across Guangdong province and nine cities in Jiangsu province in China.

The CEO said his focus is to promote protection products from life insurance and medical insurance. He said the company will continue to sell its products through sales agents as it does not have plans to introduce online sales in the country.

Ng also welcomed China's proposed relaxation of foreign ownership rules. In November, Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said the country plans to allow foreign companies to own up to a 51% stake in life insurance companies, up from the current limit of 49%.

The Hong Kong insurer has been active in the M&A space in Asia recently. In September, the company agreed to acquire Commonwealth Bank of Australia's life insurance business in Australia and New Zealand for A$3.8 billion. Ng said the company will look for more M&A opportunities in the region but will focus more on organic growth.