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AIA : shares hit record high on soaring profits

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Shares in Asian insurance giant AIA touched a record high in Hong Kong Friday as the firm said net profit in the first six months of its fiscal year rose by a quarter.   

The stock, which was listed in the teeming financial hub following a monster $20.5 billion share sale last year, hit HK$29 ($3.72) in early trade before closing at HK$28.65, up 3.43 per cent on the day. That close was about 46 per cent above AIA’s HK$19.68 initial public offering price.

On Friday, the firm reported a $1.31 billion net profit in the six months to May 31, a 24 per cent year on year increase, while it said the value of its new business rose 32 per cent to $399 million.

“AIA’s strong performance across all of our key financial performance measures demonstrates the excellent progress we have made in executing our growth strategy,” said Mark Tucker, the firm’s chief executive.

“There is much more to come,” he added.

The rosy results come after AIA said earlier this year that its net profit in 2010 rose 54 per cent over 2009 to $2.7 billion. AIA raised $20.5 billion in October, marking the world’s third-biggest initial public offering at the time.    Some of the cash was earmarked for helping its then parent, troubled US insurer American International Group, pay off a $182 billion US government bailout it received at the height of the global financial crisis.

Once the world’s largest insurer, AIG received the massive government cash injection as it teetered on the brink of collapse in 2008 and threatened to take down a number of large banks with it.

AIG was forced to look at floating its Asian unit in Hong Kong after the collapse of a proposed $35.5 billion sale to British insurer Prudential.

Hong Kong, July 29, 2011 (AFP)