Discovery continues its growth in Asia

On Wednesday, the share price of Discovery Holdings Ltd rocketed up 6.63% closing at a new all-time high following an announcement of a joint venture with Chinese AIA group, a well-established leader in the Asian life insurance market.

The motivation behind the joint venture is to establish the vitality programme in the Asia-Pacific region, with Singapore being the first market planned for the roll out. This venture will also offer protection for products designed to deliver better health and lower premium rates for AIA’s customers.

This will add to Discovery’s existing footprint in Asia following the 2010 joint venture with Ping An Health, China's second-biggest life insurer by premiums. Discovery has managed to grow new business in Ping An Health by 6% (R223 million) with its “lives under management” number rising to 636,123. In February 2012, Discovery received regulatory approval to increase its stake from 20% to 25% in Ping An Health.

China's population of more than 1.35 billion, and the authorities' determination to push forward healthcare reform, has attracted a steady stream of foreign insurers and banks to the country. When we consider this new development as well as past performance, Discovery appears well positioned to aid the development of the health insurance market in the region.

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