Mumbai is in the midst of one of the nation’s noisiest and most fun-filled festivals: Ganesh Chaturthi.
During the 10-day festival, statues of the elephant-headed God are set up at mandals (temporary shrines) around the city and worshipped before being immersed in water – usually on the seafront.
But who foots the bill for this vast celebration with its enormous sculptures, temporary altars and elephantine decorations? Read more
By Bindu N Lohani of the Asian Development Bank
Coconut farmers in the Philippines, factory workers in Thailand and the fishing community in Indonesia know a hard truth about the losses wrought by natural hazards: lost income can significantly stall a community’s recovery, pulling those who survive deeper into a cycle of poverty and loss that’s hard to break.
Aid organizations have responded at the community level by focusing on cash-for-work schemes. But cash-for-work can only go so far. It cannot protect against lost income; it cannot provide enough cash to get industry going again; and it cannot provide meaningful employment over the many months of long-term recovery.
This is why better access to disaster risk financing – which spreads the risks and provides financing for immediate response, recovery, and reconstruction – is desperately needed. Read more
There is nothing that the west – and we in the western media – love to hate more than when Chinese money threatens to take a chunk of the free media that we see as a cornerstone of our democracies. So when a Chinese recycling millionaire said he was buying the New York Times, we either squealed with outrage or denounced it as a publicity stunt (which it seems that it was). Read more
Thai billionaires have been flexing their financial muscles this past 12 months. The names of Dhanin Chearavanont and Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi still don’t exactly trip off the tongue, but they have become much more commonly uttered in the corridors of Asia’s investment banks.
Dhanin’s CP Group pulled off Thailand’s biggest acquisition this year with the $6.6bn takeover of retail chain Siam Macro and picked up HSBC’s chunky $9bn stake in Ping An, China’s biggest private insurer. Charoen, not to be outdone, waged a monumental bidding war with Heineken over Asia Pacific Breweries in Singapore. Charoen’s Thai Beverage group ultimately lost the drinks business, but won control of Fraser & Neave, the property group that formerly part-owned APB.
Now, a third Thai name looks likely to become much familiar alongside these two. Read more
India’s policy makers have dealt a surprise one-two, as they attempt to stem the depreciation of the rupee, finance the country’s unsustainable current account deficit and prop up the economy all at once.
The Reserve Bank of India announced a slew of monetary tightening measures on Monday that immediately propped up the rupee but raised concerns around their impact on India’s already slowing economy. Another announcement late on Tuesday provided a counterweight, as limits on foreign direct investment were further relaxed.
But are these reforms all they’re cracked up to be? Read more
With very low penetration rates and too many small players, Fitch Ratings reckons Indonesia’s nascent insurance market could be set for a wave of domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions.
The attractions of Indonesia’s market were highlighted this week by Japan’s Dai-ichi Life, which agreed to acquire 40 per cent of Panin Life, an Indonesian insurer, for Rp3.3tn ($337m). Read more
Wealthy Chinese mainlanders famously love to go shopping in Hong Kong, hungry for items such as milk powder, gold and luxury shoes and handbags. But they also like to buy less high profile items, including insurance policies. Read more
Turkey’s insurance sector could be heading for a period of consolidation following the announcement that Germany’s Allianz is to buy the non-life and pensions business of Turkey’s Yapi Kredi.
That deal makes Allianz Turkey’s biggest non-life insurer and largest private pension provider by portfolio size and the third largest life insurer. But analysts say there could be more deals to come – and plenty of opportunity for growth in an under-insured country. Read more
A growing desire for a decent burial among the less well-off in Africa is changing the map of things as far as insurance goes. With vast parts of the continent still uninsured, could the business of burials be one of the keys to opening up the insurance industry?
Funeral insurance policies are set to lead a rise in demand in Africa as the continent gears for a boom in the global insurance market, research shows. Read more
Turkey is no stranger to seismic activity having suffered eleven earthquakes of magnitude 5.8 or over in the past 20 years, and daily experiences 50 or more minor tremors.
So, although the magnitude 4.5 quake that hit the Black Sea north westof Istanbul on Tuesday was felt across the city, it was in itself nothing unusual.
It did however serve as a timely reminder to Turks of the country’s potential for natural disaster. Read more
Africa may host some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, but it also still suffers from coups, riots and messy elections, which can bring business to a sudden halt. Kenya’s general election in 2007 wreaked economic havoc. It will hold another in March – but this time around, political risk insurance is providing a modicum of security for foreign investors and locals alike. Read more
HSBC on Thursday finally responded to the welter of speculation about the planned sale of its $9.4bn stake in Ping An, the Chinese insurer.
And it seemed to dismiss suggestions that the deal might be off because of widely-reported concerns that the Chinese state bank financing the deal might pull out. It said, in short, that it had nothing to add to its December 5 statement announcing the sale. Will this be the last word in this complicated saga? Read more
Petr Kellner is the Czech Republic’s richest man and this week’s deal that has Italy’s Generali paying €2.5bn to buy out the 49 per cent of an insurance joint venture with Kellner’s PPF that it does not already own will make him even wealthier.
The deal gives Generali full control over the joint venture that has seen rapid growth since it was formed in 2007. Read more
Euh Yoon-dae, chairman of KB Financial Group, must be frustrated that the lender’s board rejected his plan to buy ING Groep’s life insurance unit in Korea for $1.2bn.
Euh (pictured) has been keen to acquire the insurance business to diversify KB’s business portfolio, as profits in the banking sector have suffered during a slowdown in Korea’s economy. Read more
For the life insurance industry, there’s nothing quite like a national near-death experience to boost the balance sheet, as Thailand shows.
The country’s number two life insurer, Thai Life, is pondering the sale of a 20 per cent stake, which some analysts predict would fetch $500m, valuing the company at $2.5bn. If successful, it will be Thailand’s third big insurance deal this year after Prudential acquired Thanachart Life Insurance and Hong Kong based investor Richard Li bought ING Thailand. Investors should not be surprised if the trend continues. Read more
By Gwen Robinson and Jake Maxwell Watts
Dhanin Chearavanont, the 73-year-old patriarch of the Charoen Pokphand group of companies, told a business gathering in Bangkok some months ago the time was right for Thai companies to go shopping abroad. On Wednesday, Dhanin put his money where his mouth was, sealing a $9.4bn deal to buy HSBC’s entire 15.6 per cent stake in China’s second-largest insurer, Ping An. Read more
HSBC‘s $9.4bn deal to sell its 15.6 per cent stake in Ping An to Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group is clearly good news for the British bank. It should also be good news for the Chinese insurer, assuming that Charoen Pokphand follows HSBC’s example in the role of long-term stable foreign shareholder.
Investors in Ping An are betting that it will, with the shares jumping 5.6 per cent in Hong Kong on the news and later closing up 4.1 per cent. HSBC, which made its intentions clear weeks ago, saw its shares rise 1 per cent. Read more
It’s not the industry that normally springs to mind when you think of Brazil, but insurance is fast becoming one of the country’s investment hotspots.
Growing income among Brazil’s new middle classes and a tight labour market are boosting demand for health and auto policies. Meanwhile, the vast infrastructure projects underway to get the country ready to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later also offer huge opportunities for insurance companies. Read more
Lean times require mean valuations. And so it is with Chinese state-owned insurer PICC Group, which has cut back the proposed price tag on its Hong Kong IPO from an original estimate of up to $30.5bn to $15.4bn-$18.2bn.
The much-delayed sale would still raise up to $3.6bn in Hong Kong’s biggest offering since AIA (also an insurer) secured $20.5bn in 2010. With cornerstone investors headed by US insurer AIG and Chinese state companies pledging $1.85bn, the deal – at its new price level – finally seems set to reach the market. Read more
Shares in HSBC jumped 1.4 per cent in Hong Kong on Monday after the bank confirmed what investors had long suspected – its $9.5bn stake in Ping An Insurance, China’s second-biggest insurer, is up for sale.
The bank issued a statement after the Hong Kong Economic Journal, a Chinese-language newspaper, reported that Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, who controls the Charoen Pokphand Group, was among the potential purchasers.
But its not a done deal and shares in Ping An fell 2.7 per cent as investors weighed the consequences of the company losing its prestigious connection with one of the world’s best-known banks. Read more