LONDON, March 27 -- China is of vital importance to the future of Lloyd's, one of the oldest financial sector businesses in Britain, its chairman has revealed.
Lloyd's, one of the oldest insurance markets in the world, has been a feature of the financial sector in Britain for centuries. A total of 94 syndicates underwrite insurance at Lloyd's, covering all classes of business from more than 200 countries and regions worldwide.
In a recent interview, Lloyd's chairman John Nelson told Xinhua how important China was to the future of his venerable business.
Nelson said Lloyd's already operated a hub in Shanghai, "It is relatively small but we have now 10 insurance companies in our market in Shanghai. That is growing significantly and there are more that we expect to come on line in 2014."
Nelson added, "The Chinese business is for us a very important growth market. We are applying at the moment to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to open a hub in Beijing."
"Our business in China, which is still relatively small in industry terms but growing at a satisfactory rate. The growth in 2013 was north of 20 percent," he added.
Nelson said that most of the business was reinsurance rather than direct insurance, added that premium income has grown from about 100 million U.S. dollars in 2008 to 370 million dollars in 2013.
On Wednesday Lloyd's reported profits of 3.2 billion pounds (about 5.3 billion dollars) for 2013.
Nelson said there was "significant China carrier interest in the Lloyd's platform. We have had China Re (Reinsurance Group Corporation) who have come on to the Lloyd's platform about 18 months ago."
There was also interest from other Chinese carriers and Nelson said this fitted Lloyd's strategy to internationalize its London market.
Nelson said that the Chinese government is keen to increase insurance penetration rates.
"In the conversations that we have with the Chinese authorities we are getting two or three messages," said Nelson.
"One is they want the international insurance committee, and Lloyd's, to play its part in the Chinese domestic insurance market. They are encouraging us in because they see the benefit of getting risk transfer diversified," he said.
Nelson added, "What they are saying is that the market is open and I would say that our experience is to that effect."
"They are also encouraging Chinese carriers to internationalize their business," said Nelson.
This was in part to support overseas Chinese direct investment, said Nelson.