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China regulator takes over Anbang Insurance; 2 Australian insurers mull merger

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.

Regulatory activities

* China's insurance regulator will take control of Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. for up to two years, saying the once-acquisitive private insurer "broke insurance laws" that could harm its solvency. The regulator will also prosecute the insurer's founder and chairman, Wu Xiaohui, over alleged "economic crimes."

* The Central Bank of Ireland ordered CBL Insurance Europe dac, a unit of New Zealand-based CBL Corp. Ltd., to stop writing business, with immediate effect. CBL said it sought legal advice in Europe and has instructed its legal counsel to request the withdrawal of the regulatory order.

* Following the order in Ireland, New Zealand's High Court placed CBL unit CBL Insurance Ltd. into interim liquidation. The High Court also issued confidentiality orders relating to the matter.

* The Philippines' Insurance Commission is reviewing its proposal to increase local insurers' capital requirement and may conclude the review by March, The Philippine Star reported. The proposal seeks to raise new players' minimum capital requirement to 1 billion pesos, while existing insurers will need to raise their capital to at least 900 million pesos by December 2019 and to 1.3 billion by December 2022. The commission initiated the review following a request from the country's nonlife insurance industry.

Potential deals and transactions

* Australian insurers HBF Health Funds Inc. and The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Ltd, or HCF, are considering a merger of equals, which could create an A$4 billion entity with a market share of 18.4%. The insurers have signed heads of agreement outlining the key principles of the proposed merger.

* In India, Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd. is reportedly in talks to acquire Apollo Munich Health Insurance Co. Ltd. HDFC officials are said to have met with members of the Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd. group, which holds a 51% stake in Apollo Munich Health.

Earnings and guidance corner

* South Korea-based Samsung Life Insurance Co. Ltd. reported a net loss of 71.76 billion won for the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to a net loss of 954.8 million won in the year-ago quarter.

* Allianz Ayudhya Assurance PCL is looking to reach 34 billion baht in total premiums in 2018 as it aims to become a leading digital insurer.

* Australia's Nib Holdings Ltd. said it expects underlying operating profit for the fiscal year ending June 30 to be at least A$165 million, up from its previous forecast of at least A$150 million. Statutory profit is expected to be at least A$148 million, compared to the previous guidance of at least A$141 million.

In other news

* An Enstar Group Ltd. subsidiary agreed to reinsure the New South Wales motor vehicle compulsory third party insurance business of Zurich Insurance Group AG's Australian subsidiary, effective Jan. 1.

* IAG New Zealand Ltd. and Suncorp New Zealand welcomed an announcement from New Zealand's government to appoint an independent Ministerial adviser to help speed up the remaining Canterbury earthquake claims.

* FWD Life Insurance Co. (Bermuda) Ltd. launched a new insurance product that addresses 10 types of mental disorders and around 60 severe diseases, becoming the first insurer to do so in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported.

* Australia's PSC Insurance Group Ltd. declared a fully franked interim dividend of 2.7 Australian cents per share, up from 2 cents per share in the year-ago period.

* Insurance broker Steadfast Group Ltd. declared a fully franked interim dividend of 2.8 Australian cents per share, slightly up from a prior-year dividend of 2.6 cents per share.

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