China Pacific Insurance says 2008 net down 80 pct

SHANGHAI, Jan 23 (Reuters) - China Pacific Insurance Group Co 601601.SS, the country's third-biggest life insurer, on Friday estimated its 2008 net profit had fallen roughly 80 percent, hit by a steep slide in the equities markets.

The company had posted a 6.89 billion yuan ($1.01 billion) profit, or earnings per share of 1.12 yuan, in 2007.

It also blamed the profit fall on the weakening economy and a series of natural disasters during the year.

The company will issue final results for 2008 in coming weeks.

The China stock market's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC tumbled 65 percent last year, hit in part by the slowing economy.

China Life Insurance Co 2628.HK601628.SS, the world's largest life insurer by market value, said earlier this week that its 2008 net profit may fall more than 50 percent due to a significant decrease in investment returns on its equity assets. [ID:nHKG349436] ($1=6.837 Yuan) (Reporting by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)