(Corrects 5th para to show JV is in Singapore with AIA Group,
AIA is not based in Singapore)
JOHANNESBURG Feb 20 South Africa's largest
health insurer, Discovery Holdings, reported a 22
percent increase in half-year earnings on Thursday after booking
new business across its products.
Discovery said normalised headline earnings rose to 296.2
cents a share in the six months to end-December from 243.1 cents
a year earlier. It had previously said earnings would rise by as
much as 25 percent.
Normalised headline earnings exclude certain one-off items.
Already wildly successful in South Africa, Discovery is
hitching its wagon to China, where it purchased a 20 percent
stake in Ping An Health in 2010, betting China's private health
insurance market will grow with increasing incomes.
Discovery is also pushing further into the Asia-Pacific
region and formed a joint venture in Singapore with AIA Group
Discovery, which also offers auto and life insurance, scaled
up insurance premium revenue by 32 percent to 11 billion rand
It paid an interim dividend of 413 cents per share in the
period from 340 cents previously.
Its shares were down 0.9 percent at 0733 GMT, bringing total
losses to 7.6 percent so far this year. In comparison,
Johannesburg's Top-40 index is up more than 3 percent
($1 = 10.9115 South African rand)
(Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by David Dolan)