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Sep 2020

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40 years on, still going strong

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Source: Asia Insurance Review | Sep 2020

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, Taiping Re’s Polly Ho talks to Asia Insurance Review about what the company has accomplished, how it has stayed successful over the years and how it intends to navigate the challenges presented by the current global climate.
By Amir Sadiq
 
 
With only six employees and limited resources, Taiping Re started from humble beginnings in Hong Kong in 1980. Nevertheless, the reinsurer managed to build a strong foundation that has enabled it to achieve rapid growth since the turn of the millennium, including the setting up of branches in Labuan IBFC and Beijing.
 
After starting work on its life portfolio in 2014, the company established an internationalisation strategy the following year. As part of the strategy, it set up TPRe UK as a corporate member of Lloyd’s. 
 
It also converted its Beijing branch to a subsidiary, reinforcing its cross-border operational competitiveness and allowing it access to more opportunities in the robust Chinese market.
 
Now, Taiping Re is recognised as one of the leading reinsurers in Hong Kong, having earned ‘A’ financial strength ratings from international rating agencies. It has also won several awards, including ‘General Reinsurer of the Year’ at the 23rd Asia Insurance Industry Awards in 2019.
 
Reinsurance is a global business
According to Taiping Re general manager Polly Ho, the secret of the company’s success over the last four decades has been its ability to balance its focus on domestic and international markets.
 
“Reinsurance is a highly internationalised operation. As an Asian-based global reinsurer, Taiping Re has been committed to seeking international development and sustainable growth by continuously cultivating the domestic market while expanding footprints globally,” she said.
 
Having a deep-rooted local presence and a strong client base with long-term business partners, the reinsurer has put itself in a strong position in Hong Kong’s and Macau’s reinsurance markets while markets in the rest of Asia, especially China, have contributed significantly to its business portfolio and will remain crucial in its future global expansion strategy.
 
Meanwhile, its subsidiary TPRe UK offers a base from which it has expanded its business in Europe.
 
“In the near future, we will also explore ways to enhance Taiping Re’s brand recognition and expand our presence and market shares in the European market,” she said. “Among the regional developments, seizing opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area play a key role in our global strategy as well.”
 
Charting a path forward
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast the shadow of uncertainty over the global economy and for now, Taiping Re remains cautious with its underwriting and will continue to focus on long-term profitability.
 
At the same time, the company will continue to look out for potential opportunities during and after the pandemic and support its business partners around the region.
 
“Taiping Re has passed through various market cycles in the past four decades of operation. We have a solid foundation that enables us to meet the challenges ahead. Moreover, we believe the insurance industry will recover strongly and expect new emerging opportunities,” said Ms Ho.
 
The reinsurer has been able to respond to its clients’ immediate needs since the onset of the pandemic. For example, it introduced a resume-operation reinsurance solution in February, providing coverage for employers’ liability in the event of illness and death of their employees as well as business interruptions caused by the pandemic.
 
Plans for the future
To support the company’s long-term development, Taiping Re plans to introduce strategic investment with not more than 25% interest by issuance of new shares – a move it believes will enhance its competitiveness and facilitate its plans for global expansion.
 
Ms Ho said that this move would enable Taiping Re to establish a more diversified shareholding structure and market-oriented corporate governance mechanism, and thus strengthen the company’s management capability and operational efficiency.
 
“We expect to establish a strong and highly coordinated strategic alliance with the potential investor. Through experiences and resources sharing, Taiping Re will further enhance our product innovation capabilities, optimise the business structure and expand into overseas markets,” she said. A 
 
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