Business Insights

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AIA profits up 89 percent

Hong-Kong based insurance giant AIA said Wednesday its net profit rocketed almost 90 percent in 2012. In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange the company said net profit for the year ended November 30 jumped to $3.02 billion from $1.60 billion last year. New business, a key performance measure for profitability, grew by 27 percent. "AIA's ability to achieve growth of this magnitude against the challenging global macro-economic background ... demonstrates the resilience of our strategy and the quality of AIA's franchise and business model," the company said. "Our exclusive focus on the region means that we have the ability to better understand the needs of our customers on the ground and are able to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the fast-growing markets in which we operate. "We have built the momentum: there is a lot more to come." AIA was formerly owned by US insurer American International Group (AIG), which was bailed out by the US government during the financial crisis and sold its remaining AIA shares last December. Image: © Paha_l | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Samsung defends working practices in Chinese plants

South Korean electronics giant Samsung has defended its working practices after a lawsuit was filed in France against the firm over conditions at its supplier plants in China. Based on a September report by China Labor Watch that said employees at Samsung supplier plants in China worked up to five times the legal overtime limit and were denied basic labour rights, a trio of French rights and consumer protection groups accused Samsung of deceiving consumers by violating its own vows on ethical working conditions and using child labour. In a statement, Samsung said it maintained a "zero tolerance" policy on child labour and had audited all its supplier sites in China following the China Labor Watch report. "We are implementing new hiring policies to strengthen identity verification measures, despite no instance of child labour being identified in the audits," the statement said. Image: Samsung Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Chinese motor company aims higher

As South African consumers continue to embrace the red dragon, we talk to Tony Pinfold, chairperson of Great Wall Motors South Africa.

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China to become world’s biggest online market

China is set to become the world's biggest online market with online sales forecast to exceed $420 billion annually by 2020. According to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, online sales are expected to reach between $420 billion and $650 billion, driven by a growing consumer class and the world's largest population of internet users, now more than 500 million people. "China is poised to become the world's largest e-tailing market," McKinsey said, adding sales in 2020 would match the current size of the US, Japanese, British, German and French markets combined. China's online retail sales reached $120 billion in 2011 and surged further to an estimated $190 billion to $210 billion last year. That put China second in the global 'e-tail' market, close to the United States, the current world leader, which had estimated online retail sales of $220 billion to $230 billion in 2012, the McKinsey report said. Online retail sales now account for five to six percent of total Chinese consumer transactions, the report called China's e-tail revolution: Online shopping as a catalyst for growth, added. "China could forgo the national expansion of physical stores commonly seen in Western nations and move directly to a more digital retail environment," the report predicted, adding that "China may have largely sat out the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, but as the explosion of its new consuming class continues to reshape 21st-century economic life, e-tailing and the Internet revolution have important roles to play." Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All

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China’s solar giant Suntech bankrupt

China's Suntech Power, one of the world's biggest solar-panel makers, has gone bust. The New York-listed company on Wednesday declared bankrupt and will reportedly reorganise. Suntech was once the world's largest solar panel producer and last week the company's board ousted founder Chinese-born Australian businessman Shi Zhengrong after 12 years in which he led it from nothing to world market domination and then to the edge of ruin. Suntech defaulted on repayments for a $541 million bond issue. At one point the solar giant had as many as 10,000 employees in its hometown of Wuxi and even set up a small assembly plant in the US. Chinese producers have flooded the global market since 2010 and trade disputes over alleged Chinese dumping caused a sudden and spectacular reversal of fortunes for Suntech. The firm recorded a net loss of $1.0 billion in 2011, from a profit of $237 million in 2010. It has yet to report financial results for 2012. Image: © Suntech Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

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