Chinese insurers' 2017 net operating cash flow drops 65 percent - source

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s insurance companies saw their net cash flow from operating activities fall 65 percent to 633 billion yuan ($99.9 billion) last year, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday, citing data in a government memo.

The net operating cash flow of life insurers dropped 47 percent, while property and casualty insurers saw their positions swing to negative, said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media.

The source declined to be identified.

The China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), which has not published any data on the sector’s overall cash flow position, did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment outside business hours.

The decline in net cash flows from operating activities in the insurance industry came as authorities intensified a widespread crackdown on risks and foul play in the sector, from the use of short-term risky life insurance funds to finance long-term projects to executive corruption.

A handful of insurance firms, which have issued higher-yielding products to raise funds to acquire stakes in market-listed companies, have been punished.

Anbang Life, a key part of Anbang Insurance Group Co, one of China’s most acquisitive firms overseas, was barred in May from applying to issue new products for three months.

Last week, the insurance regulator said universal life insurance fund assets dropped 50.3 percent in 2017.

($1 = 6.3355 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Ryan Woo; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens