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PICC prepares for 2010 listing

THE People's Insurance Co (Group) of China plans to wrap up its share-holding restructuring within this year to pave the way for a public listing probably next year, company sources said yesterday.

State-owned PICC will be transferred into a shareholding firm before listing the stock in Shanghai, the sources said, citing information from the insurer's meeting last week.

"The insurer is set to finish the preparatory work for its group listing this year," said a Beijing-based source with the company. "Technically speaking, it will be ready for stock sales by year end but the most probable timing is early 2010."

PICC has long been considering a domestic listing after its unit PICC Property and Casualty Co, the country's biggest property insurer, sold shares in Hong Kong in 2003, the sources said.

PICC has met the regulatory requirement and posted profits for three years in a row after staying in the black last year to qualify for a domestic public listing, according to insiders.

Officials at PICC were not available yesterday for comment on the restructuring and listing plans.

PICC has been stepping up efforts to turn itself into a financial shareholding group to compete with arch rivals China Life Insurance and Ping An Insurance in non-insurance businesses.

The insurer last year bought a 55-percent stake in China Huawen Investment Holdings Co, which indirectly owns controlling stakes in several Chinese futures brokerages and securities firms. PICC also holds nearly a third of Beijing-based China Credit Trust Co and is seeking to directly acquire monetary stakes in domestic securities brokerages, including Qilu Securities Co.

"PICC will continue to develop its non-insurance financial businesses this year to boost investment returns," said another source close to the insurer. "But risk control will also be one of the company's top priorities amid the current financial crisis."

Industry analysts expect PICC to reap long-term benefits from investments in securities, trust and futures sectors but it may still take some time for the insurer to consolidate.

"It is still to be seen how the insurer can take advantage of its diversified businesses to seek cross-selling opportunities and whether it can effectively contain risks," said Wu Zhiguo, a Guohai Securities Co analyst.


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