SINGAPORE: Insurer Great Eastern said on Tuesday its first half net profit fell 78 per cent on year to about S$60.7 million.

The results were weighed down by the second quarter’s performance, which saw profit dropping 89 per cent on-year to S$15.7 million.

Great Eastern blamed the weaker results on volatile debt and equity markets, which forced it to recognise mark-to-market losses for its investments.

However, it said its underlying insurance business remains healthy. Gross premium income rose 30 per cent to nearly S$3.6 billion in the first half, with new business premium from life assurance operations increasing 60 per cent to some S$2 billion.

Profit from its insurance operations fell 80 per cent on-year in the first half to S$48 million.

Profit from participating funds rose seven per cent in the first six months to S$49 million.

However, this was offset by the non-participating fund segment, which lost some S$41 million in the first half, reversing the profit of S$143 million in the year ago period.

As for its outlook, Great Eastern said its overall performance will continue to be affected by local, regional and global economic conditions and growth. It expects volatile interest rates, credit spreads and equity markets to hurt the earnings of its non-participating funds in Singapore.

Great Eastern has declared an interim dividend of 10 cents per ordinary share.

The insurer is 87 per cent owned by Singapore’s third largest lender, OCBC Bank. – CNA/yb

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