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Foreign Insurers See Little Headway in China on Local Rivalry

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Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Foreign insurers expect little progress in expanding their market share in China in the next three years as competition from local rivals increases, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP survey.

Seven out of 18 overseas life insurers forecast their share to be unchanged at 5 percent in 2014, according to the results of a survey released today. Six of the 10 property and casualty insurance companies that participated expect their slice to remain at about 1 percent, the lowest foreign presence in Asia.

Increasing competition from Chinese insurers such as China Life Insurance Co. replaced government regulation as the biggest challenge for insurance companies operating in China for the first time in the five years the accounting firm has conducted the survey, PwC said. The entry of local banks poses new challenges, and the rising cost of living is making talent retention and recruitment more difficult, according to the survey.

Still, participants view China as a “very attractive” market due to its rapid economic growth and low penetration levels, PwC said. Twelve life insurers envisage premium growth rates above 30 percent by 2014, while property and casualty companies mostly expected growth in the 30 percent to 50 percent range, according to the survey.

To contact the Bloomberg News staff for this story: Zhang Dingmin in Beijing at Dzhang14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net

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