By Fiona Law
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Asian insurance giant AIA Group Ltd. (1299.HK) said Friday its value of new business for the first half of its fiscal year rose 32% from a year earlier, driven by strong growth in Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.
AIA, 32.89% owned by American International Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203700638/composite AIG +0.65% , said its net profit in the six months ended May 31 rose 24% to US$1.31 billion from US$1.06 billion in the same period a year earlier.
Analysts expected the insurer to report US$1.15 billion in net profit for the period, according to a poll of four analysts by Dow Jones Newswires.
The company said its net premiums and fee income in the period rose 13% to US$5.78 billion. The insurer said it will pay HK$0.11 per share as half-year dividend, its first dividend payment since its listing in Hong Kong late last year.
AIA said in a statement the company continues to focus on growth in Asia, give the global volatility amid concerns over sovereign debt problems in the U.S. and Europe.