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Banking & Finance

Dai-ichi Life aims to join global top 5 by 2020

Koichiro Watanabe

TOKYO -- Japan's Dai-ichi Life Insurance strives to become one of the world's top 5 life insurers in 2020, President Koichiro Watanabe told The Nikkei, in a league with France's AXA and Germany's Allianz.

     Specifically, Dai-ichi Life aims to more than double its consolidated net profit to over 300 billion yen ($2.39 billion) in 2020 from fiscal 2014. The effort is likely to be aided by profit from Protective Life, a New York insurer Dai-ichi Life purchased earlier this year.

     Dai-ichi Life posted a net profit of 142.4 billion yen in the 12 months through March, up 83% from the previous year and the highest the company has recorded since debuting on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2010.

     Watanabe says Dai-ichi Life aims to grow its business by having three bases around the world -- Tokyo plus regional headquarters in Singapore and New York.

     The company has delegated some authority over mergers and acquisitions to its North American and Singaporean units for quick decision-making. Watanabe added that this facilitates Dai-ichi Life's M&A efforts through dollar-denominated fundraising.

     As an added benefit, having regional headquarters in Asia and North America shields the company from possible exchange rate risk stemming from further depreciation of the yen, according to Watanabe.

     Dai-ichi Life plans to create a holding company possibly by October 2016 to allow affiliated companies to make swift decisions, Watanabe said.

     In fiscal 2014, Dai-ichi Life raked in more revenue from insurance premiums, which are equivalent to sales, than rival Nippon Life Insurance for the first time in the postwar era.

     "Reaching the top is not a goal. We will continue to be a challenger," Watanabe said, emphasizing that the company will focus on developing new products.

     For example, Dai-ichi Life will introduce new medical insurance products for omnibus agencies this fall, an area not fully cultivated so far. Using its 2014 acquisition of Neo First Life Insurance as a springboard, Dai-ichi Life plans to "provide competitive insurance offerings through easy-to-understand product designs," Watanabe said.

     Watanabe said asset management would also be a pillar of growth, adding he plans to promote personnel exchanges between different groups to "boost synergies."

(Nikkei)

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