Major insurer IAG’s expansion u-turn

Major insurer IAG’s expansion u-turn | Insurance Business

Major insurer IAG’s expansion u-turn
Investors have responded positively to IAG's announcement yesterday that it will not pursue further investment in China following speculation of the company growth overseas.

In a brief statement to the ASX yesterday, the company announced that following “recent market speculation and shareholder feedback,” the company needed to “clarify” its position and had decided against a further move to China.

“After completing significant work on assessing the opportunities available, IAG has determined not to pursue further investment in China,” the statement said.

In the ASX statement, outgoing CEO and managing director, Mike Wilkins, stressed that the change of focus will not hamper growth in Australia, New Zealand or other parts of Asia.

“While we believe in the fundamentals of China, our future focus will be on pursuing growth opportunities in our other Asian markets and our core businesses in Australia and New Zealand,” Wilkins said.

The statement comes just a week after incoming CEO and managing director of the business, Peter Harmer, told Insurance Business that a further move to China was expected during his tenure.

“We are very attracted to the fundamentals of China and we do have some considerable experience in China and we are of the view that the way of succeeding in China is through a national player, not through a local or regional player,” Harmer said in an interview with Insurance Business last week.

“We’ve always taken a very focused, disciplined and cautious approach to investing in Asia and we will be doing the same with any further investments we make in Asia or elsewhere.

“If we found the right opportunity in China, we’d be keen to invest,” Harmer continued.

However, investors who had expressed misgivings over the strategy have been pleased with the change of plan.

Their delight was reflected in the insurer's share price which jumped more than 6% after the announcement was made.

One market analyst commented that the share price reaction spoke volumes for it being exactly what the shareholders wanted.

"They've got their own way and there's an audible sigh of relief. There'll be pats on the back all round, I think, for management," he said.