August 24, 2017 / 9:43 AM / 2 years ago

China Life Insurance H1 profit rises 18 percent on strong investment income

An employee sits at the reception of the headquarters building of China Life insurance in Beijing, China, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - China Life Insurance Co Ltd (601628.SS) (2628.HK), the country’s second-biggest insurer by market value, on Thursday said first-half net profit rose 17.8 percent on strong investment income.

Profit for January-June was 12.242 billion yuan ($1.84 billion), the insurer said in a statement. First-half total investment income rose 11.45 percent to 56.66 billion yuan.

The results underscore a broader trend in China’s insurance industry, which saw overall first-half earnings rise 10 percent to 116.1 billion yuan on strong returns from investment, the country’s insurance regulator said in July.

But the sector will likely face headwinds this year from a government crackdown on leverage that has led to the chief insurance regulator being investigated for graft and others being reprimanded for overseas acquisitions.

“Chinese life insurers continue to face multiple operating challenges, including moderating economic growth, a further build-up in economy-wide leverage, and rising regulatory pressure,” said Moody’s Vice President and Senior Credit Officer Qian Zhu in a June research note.

Researcher Morningstar said China Life is more sensitive than peers to interest rate fluctuation, but should benefit from an increase in agents in the second half of 2017.

China Life’s net premiums earned were 336 billion yuan in the first half, versus 284 billion yuan a year earlier.

(The story corrects ranking of China Life in lead paragraph to country’s second-biggest insurer by market value, not the biggest)

Reporting by Engen Tham and Matthew Miller; Additional reporting by Shu Zhang; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing

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