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Asia to Contribute 20% of Swiss Re's Revenues

Asia will contribute about 20 percent of Swiss Re's global revenues within three to five years, up from 11 percent now, a senior executive at the world's largest reinsurer said on Wednesday.

Swiss Re, whose total premiums rose 7 percent in 2007 to 31.66 billion Swiss francs ($31.32 billion), is always on the lookout for further acquisitions to boost profits, Martyn Parker, chief executive of Swiss Re's Asia division, added.

"I cannot say something will happen soon or even this year. But I think the history of Swiss Re demonstrates that we are always active in the market place," Parker, a member of the firm's executive board, told reporters.

He was speaking at a news conference to announce that Swiss Re had won approval to set up a health consulting company in China, where the reinsurer's business has been growing fast.

Beijing Prestige Health Consulting Service will provide third-party administrator and related consulting services to hospitals, insurers, policyholders and employers.

China is expected to announce a new master plan for its health service this year that analysts say is likely to institute universal medical coverage paid for by insurance rather than general taxation.

Swiss Re entered the health insurance industry in India in December 2006 by taking a 26 percent stake in TTK Healthcare Services, which provides health insurers with a range of medical claims-handling services.

A recent Swiss Re study estimated that China spent more than 1,000 billion yuan ($143 billion) on healthcare in 2007, of which 52 percent was directly paid by households.

The study found commercial medical insurance covered less than 6 percent of these costs, implying a market potential of 489 billion yuan that Prestige Health will help insurers to tap.

The wholly owned firm plans to open for business later this year. Swiss Re already employs 100 people at its Beijing office.

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