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China Life restructures for overseas listing
( 2003-08-29 09:06) (China Daily)

Fortune 500 financial giant China Life was officially reshaped yesterday into a shareholding company and a parent group company, marking a strategic step forward in its aggressive goal for a massive overseas listing.

"The opening of the two companies marks a milestone in the progress of China Life's restructuring, which started last year following the go-ahead from the State Council," said Wu Dingfu, chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, the country's insurance watchdog.

According to the reform proposal approved by the central government, China Life is set to be reshaped into three companies, including China Life Insurance (Group) Company, China Life Insurance Company Ltd and an asset management company.

"China Life's target is to restructure itself into a leading commercial insurance giant with international competitiveness in the future," said Wang Xianzhang, general manager of the parent company.

"And the preparation for an asset management company is going well," said Wang, who is also general manager of the shareholding company.

The shareholding firm - China Life Insurance Company Ltd - will be in charge of all the policies and assets China Life generated from 1999, which will be the candidate company for a massive overseas listing at stock markets in Hong Kong and New York.

But Wang declined to unveil further details about the shareholding company's much-planned overseas initial public offering, one of the aggressive goals set by the central government to reshape its ailing large State-owned companies.

However, sources with the company said that the size of the shareholding company will be larger than that of the parent company, with total assets before the split standing at 301.3 billion yuan (US$36.38 billion) in 2002, making up 48 per cent of the country's total insurance assets.

China Life, ranked as the eighth largest Chinese firm in 2002, was also the country's only insurer to be listed as a Fortune 500 company. Its business has skyrocketed in recent years, and its premiums have doubled in the past three years from some 65 billion yuan (US$7.85 billion) in 2000 to 128.7 billion yuan (US$15.54 billion) in 2002, taking some 57 per cent of the country's total market stakes.

And its planned listing in Hong Kong and New York will raise a total of between US$2 billion-US$3 billion, said a source with one of its four underwriters, which include Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse First Boston and China International Capital Corp.

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