August 28, 2018 / 2:54 AM / 3 months ago

Shares in Australian insurer hit all-time low ahead of inquiry

SYDNEY, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Shares in Australia life insurer Freedom Insurance fell to an all-time low on Tuesday after the company was listed among ten firms to appear next month before an inquiry into misconduct in the financial services industry.

The Royal Commission said on Monday that Freedom, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, AMP Ltd, IAG , Suncorp and five other firms would be the focus of public hearings on the insurance sector from Sept. 10.

The year-long inquiry has uncovered misconduct in the lending, wealth management and pension fund sectors, forcing senior management shake-ups and a CEO resignation. It will submit an initial report to the government by the end of September.

Freedom shares fell 17.95 percent to 32 cents on Tuesday morning, the lowest level since listing at 35 cents in 2016.

Shares in CBA and Suncorp were about 1 percent higher while AMP, IAG and the broader market were largely unchanged.

“Freedom will co-operate fully with the Royal Commission and is committed to addressing any issues that may emerge through this process,” the company said in a statement to the bourse.

Freedom will release its 2018 financial year results on Wednesday, it said.

“Freedom does not intend to make any further statement regarding the Royal Commission prior to the hearing,” the company said.

The Australian newspaper reported on Tuesday that the corporate regulator would release a report into the direct sales practices of life insurance companies and it would “feature” Freedom Insurance.

A spokesman for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) told Reuters it would release such a report this week, but he declined to comment on any companies included in the review. (Reporting by Paulina Duran Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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