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S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week. Please note that some entries may have links to third-party sources that may require a subscription.

Deals, updates and potential transactions

* Japanese life insurers Nippon Life Insurance Co. and Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. unit Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. Ltd. are reportedly looking to consolidate their corporate pension joint venture with another pension service company owned by Sumitomo Life Insurance Co., Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co., Nippon Life unit Mitsui Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co.

* Sony Life Insurance Co. Ltd.'s planned takeover of Australia's ClearView Wealth Ltd. has reportedly hit roadblocks, including regulatory issues in Japan. Sony Life has until late April to carry out a transaction or vend its shares into a rival offer for ClearView Wealth.

* Japanese online services and e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. will acquire pet insurer MottoGyutto Small Amount & Short Term Insurance Co. Ltd. The insurer will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Rakuten and will be rebranded as Rakuten Small Amount & Short Term Insurance.

* China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co. Ltd. backed out of discussions to acquire the noncore operations of Australian financial services company AMP Ltd. The Chinese insurer was reportedly concerned that the acquisition will likely be barred by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.

* Indian consumer electronics maker Videocon Industries Ltd. said it divested its entire 51.32% stake in Liberty Videocon General Insurance Co. Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.

Earnings corner

* Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd.'s consolidated profit attributable to owners jumped 42.8% year over year to 89.09 billion yuan in 2017 from 62.39 billion yuan in 2016. The insurer said its healthcare and fintech business line was the second-largest contributor to 2017 net profit after the core life insurance business, and it expects the business to continue increasing its contribution to earnings.

* Beijing-headquartered China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. said 2017 net profit surged to 32.25 billion yuan, or 1.13 yuan per share, from 19.13 billion yuan, or 66 fen per share, in 2016. The insurer attributed the gain in net profit to a rapid increase in investment income and the impact from a change in the discount rate assumption of reserves of traditional insurance contracts.

* New China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. said net profit attributable to shareholders for 2017 increased year over year to 5.38 billion yuan from 4.94 billion yuan. The insurer also increased its full-year dividend to 52 fen per share from 48 fen per share in the previous fiscal year.

* Taiwan-based Cathay Financial Holding Co. Ltd. reported a net income of NT$8.41 billion, or 66 cents per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, down from NT$8.79 billion, or 71 cents per share, in the prior-year period. Meanwhile, unit Cathay Life Insurance Co. Ltd.'s fourth-quarter net income rose to NT$5.32 billion from NT$4.87 billion.

* Taiwan's Fubon Financial Holding Co. Ltd. said net profit attributable to the parent company rose 11.8% year over year to NT$54.12 billion from NT$48.42 billion. Fubon Life Insurance Co. Ltd., a unit of the company, contributed net income to the parent company of NT$32.49 billion, up from NT$28.69 billion in the year-ago period.

In other news

* Nippon Life Insurance Co. said unit Nippon Life Asia Pacific (Regional HQ) Pte. Ltd. has obtained approval from Myanmar's Ministry of Planning and Finance to set up a representative office in the country's capital.

* South Korea's Financial Services Commission released new rules to give financial companies easier access to data from state agencies. Under the new measures, state-led agencies such as the Korea Credit Information Services or the Korea Insurance Development Institute will provide their sample databases to financial firms, financial technology startups and research institutions.

* China has appointed Guo Shuqing to head the newly formed regulator overseeing the banking and insurance sectors.

* Thai Reinsurance PCL lowered its total dividend for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, to 10 Thai satang per share from the prior-year dividend of 15 satang per share.

* The Indian government has allocated US$1.54 billion for its health program, which aims to provide insurance coverage for about half the country's population. Jagat Prakash Nadda, minister of health and family welfare, said the scheme will be the "largest public funded health protection scheme in the world."

* Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE is launching its entertainment insurance division in Singapore, the first market in its Asia push. The insurer plans to capitalize on Asia's "thriving and fascinating" film production and event industry, where it hopes to offer insurance to event organizers and film producers. It also plans to enter markets in Hong Kong and China as part of its business expansion.

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