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AIA To Expand Its Insurance Sales To 10 Chinese Cities And Provinces, Betting On 226 Million Middle-class Customers For Growth

AIA, the largest insurer in Hong Kong by capitalisation, is planning to expand in mainland China to capture the growth opportunity of a region that contributes to the lion’s share of its operating profit.
The insurer, which traces its roots to 1919…

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AIA, the largest insurer in Hong Kong by capitalisation, is planning to expand in mainland China to capture the growth opportunity of a region that contributes to the lion's share of its operating profit.

The insurer, which traces its roots to 1919 in Shanghai, is awaiting regulatory approvals to expand to 10 more provinces and municipalities in mainland China, with the potential to serve 226 million potential customers with income levels defined as "middle class," executives said.

The plan shows how China, the first major global economy to emerge from Covid-19 lockdowns, underpins AIA's corporate earnings as it looks for growth. The new delta strain of the coronavirus disease had been identified in China, resulting in new confirmed cases in Jiangsu and Henan provinces in recent days. Even so, AIA remained confident that China's near-term growth outlook remained positive, said its regional chief executive Jacky Chan during a media call in Hong Kong.

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"We believe that Covid would remain under control in China," he said. "We saw that our digital sales and our online engagement in China have been well-received (throughout) the pandemic."

Jacky Chan, CEO of AIA (Hong Kong), as of October 10, 2011. Photo: Berton Chang.

AIA's first-half net profit rose 47 per cent to US$3.2 billion, beating the analyst estimates in a Bloomberg poll. Sales increased 23 per cent to US$24.2 billion.

New business grew 22 per cent to US$1.8 billion, in stark contrast to the 37 per cent decline a year ago. All 18 markets that AIA operates in, except Hong Kong, said new businesses grew at a faster pace in the first half than pre-pandemic levels. In mainland China, the biggest earnings driver, new business value grew 15 per cent to US$738 million from last year.

AIA raised its interim dividend by 8.6 per cent to 38 Hong Kong cents. The company's shares rose before interim results were announced, advancing 2.8 per cent amid a declining market to HK$96.60.

Zilin Building at 17 Zhongshan East 1st Road on The Bund in Shanghai, which still carried the signage of AIA, in this October 22, 2010 file photo. Photo: Reuters

AIA's former headquarters at The Bund in Shanghai was the city's tallest building when it opened in 1924. The company, now a unit of the New York-based American International Group (AIG), is the first wholly foreign-owned insurer to operate on the mainland, under a special dispensation granted by former Premier Zhu Rongji before China's membership in the World Trade Organization.

AIA sells life insurance policies in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang and throughout the provincial powerhouses of Guangdong and Jiangsu. It launched its Sichuan branch in March and received the regulator's approval to open another one in Hubei province.

AIA raised US$20.5 billion in Hong Kong in 2010, in what still counts as the world's sixth-largest initial public offering (IPO). The city remains AIA's biggest single contributor of operating profit, increasing in value by 5 per cent in the first half.

Lee Yuan Siong, AIA's group chief executive and president, formerly the executive vice-president of Ping An Insurance Group, during an interview on 2 November 2016. Photo: Xiaomei Chen.

"We have been in Hong Kong for over 90 years, so we remain very committed to the Hong Kong market [particularly in light of its] integration into the Greater Bay Area (GBA)," said group chief executive and president Lee Yuan Siong.

The GBA, a cluster of 11 cities in southern China including Hong Kong and Macau, has a combined economy of US$1.75 trillion and a population of 70 million people.

Hong Kong's insurance used to get a lift from mainland Chinese visitors, who were driven by the dearth of investible options to flock to the city to park their assets. Those numbers have dwindled, as mainland Chinese visitors stayed away during Hong Kong's 2019 street protests, and during the travel lockdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Excluding sales to Chinese visitors, new business value rose 16 per cent, to US$313 million in Hong Kong.

Commenting on the impending introduction of the anti-sanctions law in Hong Kong, company executives said they remained confident that the incorporation of the new law into the city's mini constitution would not cause "material change" to their businesses.

The standing committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, is expected to adopt the law into the mini constitutions of Hong Kong and Macau at its next four-day meeting beginning on Tuesday, bringing them in line with mainland law.

"We are confident that we are operating fully in compliance with all the rules applicable to the group," said AIA general counsel Mitch New.

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Monkeypox cases are rising. Should we be worried?

The World Health Organization has said the current outbreak of monkeypox is the largest ever recorded outside sub-Saharan
The post Monkeypox cases are…

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The World Health Organization has said the current outbreak of monkeypox is the largest ever recorded outside sub-Saharan Africa, with cases rising above the 100-mark a few days ago and the UK top of the table with 56 as of yesterday.

Top of the list of concerns is how the virus – which does not spread easily between humans and requires skin-to-skin contact – is spreading so quickly in so many countries in Europe, the Americas and Australia where the disease is not endemic.

There is speculation that monkeypox may be being spread between sexual partners, even though it is not normally considered a sexually-transmitted infection. Thankfully, there have been no deaths reported so far, although the WHO notes monkeypox has a fatality rate of between 3% and 6%.

While health authorities are on alert, the WHO said it thinks the outbreak can be contained and that the overall risk to the population remains low. It also stressed there is no evidence that a viral mutation is responsible for the unusual pattern of infections.

Monkeypox is considered less likely to mutate quickly because it is a DNA virus rather than an RNA virus like influenza or COVID-19.

Several countries including Belgium and the UK are already advising a three-week quarantine period for anyone who contracts the virus and their close contacts.

The increasing case numbers in the current monkeypox outbreak are certainly concerning,” commented Dr Charlotte Hammer, an expert in emerging infectious diseases based at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

“It is very unusual to see community transmission in Europe – previous monkeypox cases have been in returning travellers with limited ongoing spread. However, based on the number of cases that were already discovered across Europe and the UK in the previous days, it is not unexpected that additional cases are now being and will be found, especially with the contact tracing that is now happening.”

Vaccines and drugs are available

Meanwhile, attention is now being turned to other measures to control the outbreak, including the use of vaccines against smallpox – a related virus – in a ‘ring vaccination’ approach designed to control the spread among contacts.

Vaccines used during the smallpox eradication programme can provide around 85% protection against monkeypox, according to the WHO, which notes that one newer vaccine – Bavarian Nordic’s Jyneos – has been approved by the FDA for prevention against both viruses.

There’s also a licensed antiviral drug for monkeypox. SIGA Technologies’ oral drug Tpoxx (tecovirimat) is approved for smallpox, monkeypox and cowpox in Europe, and in the US and Canada for smallpox, although it can be used off-label for the other disease. The US FDA also approved a new intravenous form of the drug last week.

The WHO says there is no need for widespread vaccination, as other control measures like isolation of patients should be enough to curb the spread and in any case supplies of vaccines are limited.

Monkeypox causes symptoms similar to but milder than smallpox, typically beginning with fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. It is transmitted to people from various wild animals, such as rodents and primates, and is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks.

In 2003, the US experienced an outbreak of monkeypox, which was the first time human monkeypox was reported outside of Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is making some Jyneos vaccine reserves available for close contact inoculations, including healthcare workers tending to patients.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said yesterday it had identified 36 additional cases of monkeypox in England, and that vaccination of high-risk contacts of cases is already underway.

“A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging these men to be alert to the symptoms,” said the agency’s chief medical advisor Dr Susan Hopkins.

“Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service if they have any symptoms.”

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UK’s Johnson Urges Talks As Unions Threaten “Biggest Rail Strike In Modern History”

UK’s Johnson Urges Talks As Unions Threaten "Biggest Rail Strike In Modern History"

Authored by Alexander Zhang via The Epoch Times,

British…

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UK's Johnson Urges Talks As Unions Threaten "Biggest Rail Strike In Modern History"

Authored by Alexander Zhang via The Epoch Times,

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged rail unions to talk to the government before causing “irreparable damage” with strike action.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) is holding a ballot of its 40,000 members on plans to strike over jobs, pay, and conditions. The ballot is set to close on Tuesday, and the union has claimed that a yes vote could lead to “the biggest rail strike in modern history.”

Another union, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), has also warned of a “summer of discontent” with similar action on the way unless pay disputes are resolved.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said on Monday:

“Railways are going through difficult times with passenger numbers down. We need to make sure they’re fit for the future.”

He said the government wants “a fair deal for staff, for passengers, and taxpayers” so that “money isn’t taken away from other essential services” such as the National Health Service.

“The prime minister is firmly of the view that unions should talk to the government before causing irreparable damage to our railways—strikes should be the last resort not the first,” he added.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told The Sunday Telegraph that ministers are looking at drawing up laws which would make industrial action illegal unless a certain number of staff are working.

Shapps said the government hopes the unions will “wake up and smell the coffee” and suggested that strikes could put more people off rail travel.

He also accused unions of going straight to industrial action rather than using it as a last resort, adding that railways were already on “financial life support” because of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

Referring to a pledge in the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto, which promised minimum services during rail strikes, he said:

“We had a pledge in there about minimum service levels. If they really got to that point then minimum service levels would be a way to work towards protecting those freight routes and those sorts of things.”

Unions have reacted to the threat with anger.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said, “Any attempt by Grant Shapps to make effective strike action illegal on the railways will be met with the fiercest resistance from RMT and the wider trade union movement.”

He said the government needs to “focus all their efforts on finding a just settlement” to the rail dispute rather than “attack the democratic rights of working people.”

Tyler Durden Tue, 05/24/2022 - 02:00

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CytoDyn Inc (OTCMKTS: CYDY) On the Comeback Trail (HIV Leronlimab Update)

CytoDyn Inc (OTCMKTS: CYDY) continues to move steadily higher in recent trading since hitting lows of $0.231 after the FDA placed a partial clinical hold…

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CytoDyn Inc (OTCMKTS: CYDY) continues to move steadily higher in recent trading since hitting lows of $0.231 after the FDA placed a partial clinical hold on the Company’s HIV program and a full clinical hold on its COVID-19 program in the United States. CYDY was one of the biggest runners of 2020 skyrocketing from pennies to $10 per share and MIcrocapdaily covered the stock regularly back in those exciting times. Since than CYDY has been downward bound, first suffering from the Citron short attack and more recently the March 30 drop after the FDA hold. Further, CytoDyn elected to pause its Brazil COVID-19 trials pending results from its previously scheduled data safety monitoring committee meeting and is in the process of reevaluating the timing of its HIV BLA resubmission. CYDY saw further declines after the Company’s CEO and registered public accounting firm, Warren Averett LLC, both resigned. 

On May 23 CYDY reached a non-cash settlement with its former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Pestell. The Company will release to Dr. Pestell 8.3 million shares of CYDY held in escrow, transfer to Dr. Pestell the assets acquired from ProstaGene LLC and subsequently written-off by the Company and issue a warrant at an exercise price of $0.37 per share to Dr. Pestell for seven million shares of the Company’s common stock. Dr. Pestell and the Company are also exploring ways in which Dr. Pestell can reengage with the Company to help realize Leronlimab’s full potential in oncology. This is an important step forward for CytoDyn as any potential suitor would want the current management to clear the deck of lawsuits before initiating a buyout or partnership. Also, an all-stock settlement shows a lot of faith in the Company from Dr. Pestell who make come back. At this point Cytodyn must find a sponsor or partner to get Leronmilab back on track for HIV. 

The underlying science of Leronmilab has not changed; leronlimab has demonstrated significant potential to attack a number of diseases including cancer, and HIV.  Considering how fast CYDY dropped the bounce potential here is significant and when CYDY does make a definitive move northbound the stock could make rapid gains in a very shorty time period. Management remains hopeful the FDA will review the case and stop the hold of Leronlimab. 

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CytoDyn Inc (OTCMKTS: CYDY) is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of leronlimab, an investigational humanized IgG4 monoclonal antibody (mAb) that is designed to bind to C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5), a protein on the surface of certain immune system cells that is believed to play a role in numerous disease processes. CytoDyn is studying leronlimab in multiple therapeutic areas, including infectious disease, cancer, and autoimmune conditions. 

In January Cytodyn reported positive results from the 350 mg weekly dose of its Phase 2 NASH clinical trial. The trial was conducted in two parts. Part 1 compared a 700 mg weekly dose and placebo in a double-blind randomized manner and Part 2 evaluated a 350 mg weekly dose as an open label study compared to the same placebo blinded arm. Results of the topline report will be announced when available.  

The pre-clinical and clinical development of PRO 140 was led by Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. through 2011. The Company acquired the asset from Progenics in October 2012. In February 2018, CYDY announced it had met the primary endpoint in its Phase 3 trial for leronlimab as a combination therapy with HAART for highly treatment-experienced HIV patients and first submitted the non-clinical portion of the Company’s Biologics License Application (“BLA”) to the FDA in March 2019.  

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CYDY

Cytodyns current business strategy is to resubmit its BLA to the FDA as soon as possible, to finalize with the FDA our submitted protocol for a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial with leronlimab as a monotherapy for HIV patients, to seek emergency use authorization and approval for leronlimab as a potential therapeutic benefit for COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate, severe-to-critical, and long-haulers indications in the U.S., Brazil, and other countries, to advance the Company’s clinical trials with leronlimab for various forms of cancer, including, among others, the Phase 2 clinical trial for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer and Phase 2 basket trial for 22 solid tumor cancers, to complete the Phase 2 trial for liver fibrosis associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (“NASH”), and to explore other cancer and immunologic indications for leronlimab.  

On May 23 CYDY announced it has reached a non-cash settlement with its former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Pestell, concerning an ongoing legal dispute related to his former employment with the Company. 

Under the terms of the agreement, the parties will release each other of all claims, and the Company will release to Dr. Pestell 8.3 million shares of the Company’s common stock held in escrow, transfer to Dr. Pestell the assets acquired from ProstaGene LLC and subsequently written-off by the Company and issue a warrant at an exercise price of $0.37 per share to Dr. Pestell for seven million shares of the Company’s common stock. Dr. Pestell and the Company are also exploring ways in which Dr. Pestell can reengage with the Company to help realize leronlimab’s full potential in oncology. CytoDyn regrets Dr. Pestell’s departure from the Company and the subsequent public statements made by its former CEO about Dr. Pestell. 

Dr. Pestell has published more than 600 works, is the most frequently cited scientist in the field of cell-cycle control and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours for distinguished service to medicine and medical education. He has served on editorial boards of six journals, was the Director of two NCI-designated Cancer Centers and has founded several biotechnology companies. He serves as an advisor and reviewer for a number of domestic and international research centers, including NCI cancer centers. 

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Currently trading at a $226 million market valuation CYDY is an SEC filer and is fully reporting OTCQB. The Company has close to $100 million in assets and about that in debt. At current price levels CYDY is worth a close look; CYDY was one of the biggest runners of 2020 skyrocketing from pennies to $10 per share. While there are plenty of ricks not to mention the CEO and accounting firm resigning CYDY is moving northbound now and looks to be coming back. The underlying science has not changed; Leronlimab has demonstrated significant potential to attack a number of diseases including cancer and HIV.  Considering how fast CYDY dropped the bounce potential here is significant and when CYDY does make a definitive move northbound the stock could make rapid gains in a very shorty time period. Management remains hopeful the FDA will review the case and stop the hold of Leronlimab. We will be updating on CYDY when more details emerge so make sure you are subscribed to Microcapdaily so you know what’s going on with CYDY.

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Disclosure: we hold no position in CYDY either long or short and we have not been compensated for this article.

The post CytoDyn Inc (OTCMKTS: CYDY) On the Comeback Trail (HIV Leronlimab Update) first appeared on Micro Cap Daily.

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