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Ping An Insurance 2008 net profit down 94.4%
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Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd., China's second largest insurer by market value, said Wednesday its net profit in 2008 plunged 94.4 percent from a year ago.

Net profit dipped to 873 million yuan (US$127.82 million) in 2008 because of rising insurance claims caused by severe natural disasters and stock market fluctuation, according to a company statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Earnings per share dropped to 0.04 yuan in 2008, down 2.57 yuan or 98.5 percent from the 2007 level, according to the statement.

Net profit from the insurance business dropped 59.8 percent to 834 million yuan from a year earlier, as natural disasters like snow storms and earthquake last year had caused a rise in the insurance claims in life and property insurance, said the statement.

The group's investment in troubled European financial group Fortis also cut down on its profit, as Ping An took 22.8 billion yuan as provision for asset impairment on Fortis.

Ping An held 121 million Fortis shares as of December 31, 2008, which means the group had invested 23.87 billion yuan into the bank, said the group.

Ping An's share fell 4.42 percent to 48.65 Hong Kong dollars in the Hong Kong stock market on Wednesday.

(Xinhua News Agency April 9, 2009)

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