Aviva, the UK insurance and pensions company, has opened two new branch offices in China.
Aviva was granted licences earlier this year to operate in the country’s capital Beijing and in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in the west of China. Aviva will be the first foreign life insurer to begin operations in Chengdu. Aviva already has a licence for Guangzhou, where it has been trading since the beginning of 2003.
Aviva’s joint venture partner in China is the major state-owned company China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation, known as COFCO.
“China represents a significant business opportunity for us, given the country’s rapid economic growth and the low level of penetration of life assurance in China which is currently just one tenth that of the UK,” said Philip Scott, executive director of Aviva, while opening the new Aviva-COFCO Life branch office in Beijing today. “In Asia, we have chosen to focus on long-term savings and we have a firm commitment to developing operations in China, which will form a key part of Aviva’s growth strategy over the next five to 10 years. Our ambition for China is to develop a multi-distribution operation capable of achieving a 10% market share in 10 cities by 2010.”
Aviva has had a presence in China since 1994, when it established a representative office in Beijing. In 2005, the Beijing office will become the headquarters of Aviva-COFCO Life. The new branch office in Chengdu is set to become the regional headquarters for the company’s operations in western China.