Date
21 November 2018
Richard Li has revealed that he is now focusing on growing his insurance unit FWD given the huge opportunities in the region. Photo: HKEJ
Richard Li has revealed that he is now focusing on growing his insurance unit FWD given the huge opportunities in the region. Photo: HKEJ

Richard Li sees big potential in SE Asia insurance market

PCCW Ltd. (0008) chairman Richard Li said he is now devoting most of his time and effort to growing his group’s insurance business.

In an interview with RTHK program Hall of Wisdom, Li, whose business interests stretch way beyond telecommunications to include finance, real estate and media, said insurance business currently takes up 70 to 80 percent of his time.

As demand in the region for insurance protection continues to pick up, Li’s insurance flagship FWD Hong Kong has seen its business enjoy a growth rate of about 30 percent a year on average since it entered the Southeast Asian markets several years ago, he said in the program which was recorded on Monday.

The region has a huge population, and the middle-class is growing steadily, fueling strong demand for insurance products, Li pointed out.

In 2012, Li acquired ING Group’s Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand businesses, which were then consolidated and renamed as FWD.

Since then, FWD has expanded to Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

Talking about his other businesses, Li noted that the telecoms market is already mature and that it would be hard to achieve double-digit revenue growth in the segment. But cash inflow has been expanding, he said.

As for his media business, Li admitted that running such business is not easy, but said he has no intention of selling.

On economic policies, Li said that he used to support the laissez-faire approach, but now he thinks the government should play a more active role in facilitating wealth redistribution in society.

Hong Kong should not end up like the United States, where only a few major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco enjoy the benefits of economic growth while most other cities fail to record real personal income gain, said Li, the younger son of Hong Kong’s richest man, Li ka-shing.

In other comments, Richard Li said he believes the “one country, two systems” principle is Hong Kong’s biggest edge.

Hongkongers should not overly focus on local issues, he said, suggesting that people need to have good understanding of issues related to China’s development.

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Hong Kong Economic Journal

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