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Life insurers’ overseas losses worsen in 2010

South Korea’s top three life insurers posted greater losses in their overseas operations in fiscal 2010 from a year ago due mainly to increased start-up costs, the financial watchdog said Tuesday.

The combined net loss of the eight overseas subsidiaries operated by the three biggest life insurance firms, including Samsung Life Insurance Co., came to $13.1 million last year, compared with $7.7 million the previous year, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

The widening losses were largely attributed to increased operating costs as insurers beefed up their overseas network and sales forces, according to the FSS.

“Heavy operating costs are inevitable at an early stage. However, since the losses are continuously rising, the FSS plans to step up monitoring on overseas units and consult them on ways to improve profitability,” the financial regulator said.

As of the end of December, the total assets held by the overseas subsidiaries stood at $357.6 million, up 15.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the FSS.

As of end-December, market leader Samsung Life Insurance operated two life insurance units in China and Thailand, two financial investment units in the United States and Britain as well as a real estate investment unit in China.

No. 2 life insurer Korea Life Insurance Co. had one insurance unit in Vietnam and one financial investment unit in the U.S., with smaller player Kyobo Life Insurance Co. operating one financial investment unit in the U.S. 

(Yonhap News)
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