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Manulife to launch operations in Kingdom

Canadian firm Manulife Financial plans to set up one of Cambodia’s first life-insurance operations, the company said yesterday.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance had approved “in principle” the investment, which a spokesperson from the company said would be at least US$7 million.

“We believe our entry into Cambodia is both early and timely, in terms of the potential of the country’s life-insurance industry,” David Wong, senior vice-president of Manulife’s ASEAN operations, said yesterday via email.

“We have been either the first, or among the earliest, entrants into similar growth markets,” he added.

Manulife began providing services in Thailand in 1951, he added, as well as in Indonesia and Vietnam in 1985 and 1999, respectively.

There is room to grow in the domestic market as very few Cambodians currently hold insurance policies, according to David Carter, CEO at Infinity Insurance, which sells motor and property insurance in the Kingdom.

“Penetration levels are very low compared to neighbouring countries, and we estimate it to be below one per cent of the population.”

Although competition is high among the Cambodian market’s six general-insurance providers, Carter said Manulife’s focus on life insurance would largely remove the company from that competition.

Four other life insurers recently showed interest in the market, the Post has reported. Indonesian insurer PT Asuransi, Hong Kong-based Asia Insurance and Bangkok Life Insurance and Bangkok Insurance Public – both Thai firms – finalised an initial agreement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance in August.

The Cambodian government will hold 51 per cent of that venture.

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