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Liberty Mutual targets Chongqing
( 2003-10-17 10:01) (China Daily)

One of the Fortune 500 company Liberty Mutual is set to establish its first wholly-owned branch in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality within a few months, making it the first foreign insurer to debut business in the business hub in Southwest China.

The Boston-based insurance giant is to introduce property and casualty insurance services to foreign-funded companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and later to individual customers in a number of areas, such as auto, home, property and personal liability insurance.

"We hope to see our first operating company in China established in Chongqing, and we expect our new company will be operating soon," said Ian Faragher, president of Liberty Mutual in Asia.

Liberty Mutual filed documents with the China Insurance Regulatory Commission for the opening of its first branch in Chongqing in late 2000, two years after the establishment of its representative offices in the city in 1998.

The commission in turn gave its final go-ahead to allow the firm to prepare to open a branch in China last November.

Liberty Mutual is in close contact with the commission and maintains that other preparatory assignments, such as training staff and filing registration forms are also in good shape, said Liberty Mutual's China Business General Manager John Kimber. Other senior officials with the company said that it could start business in January.

"We have high hopes for Chongqing and we are never scared of competition," said Faragher, at the opening ceremony of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Centre at Chongqing University, the most recently opened of four research centres Liberty Mutual has established in China.

Prior to the move, the company had established three work safety centres in Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing respectively to promote the research and development of occupational safety in China.

Currently, there are 12 insurers operating in Chongqing, which include five life insurers such as China Life, Ping An and New China Life.

There are also seven providers not primarily involved with life insurance, including the People's Insurance Company of China (PICC), Tian An Insurance and Yong An Insurance.

Another two foreign insurers - the Canada-based Sun Life Insurance and Sompo Japan Insurance - have also set up representative offices in Chongqing. Sompo Japan was given the go-ahead to establish a branch last November in Northeast China's Dalian.

"Our first priority is to develop a successful business in Chongqing, where we could build up our reputation and expertise that could be extended to other markets," said Faragher, adding that the branch will have about 70 staff members when it opens.

According to a business survey and feasibility report finished by the company in May, the company is to extend its business to Beijing, Suzhou, Chengdu and Ningbo following a successful opening in Chongqing.

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