China's insurance market is proving an attractive target for western giants. The latest to flex its muscles is Aegon of the Netherlands which has announced its expansion into Hangzhou, capital of Zheijang province, through its existing JV, Aegon-CNOOC Life Insurance Co.
The new office will focus on owners of small and medium enterprises in Zheijang, as well as their employees and families, the company said.
Aegon-CNOOC Life is a 50:50 joint venture between Aegon and the China's state-owned oil company China National Offshore Oil. It currently has operations in Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang provinces.
The company has around 1,500 employees in China of which around 900 are agents. For comparison, in Aegon's home market of the Netherlands, it has 1,400 agents. As well as a heavy dependence on agents in China, Aegon also puts a lot of faith with retail banks and it has agreements with three of China's leading banks to sell its products.
Nevertheless, the amount of business done in China is still small although growing rapidly. Aegon-CNOOC Life's premium income in 2006 was around 500m yuan, up 80% year-on-year. Losses rose last year