Insurance provider Aviva has set its sights on the significant development of its Asian business having announced plans to double its presence in the emerging Chinese market within the next five years, while also increasing its footprint in India.

Richard Harvey, CEO of the largest insurance company in the UK, commenting in an interview with Bloomberg, said that the insurer wants to increase its number of Chinese licenses from the current figure of five to a figure of ten by 2010 and that the company wants to become one of the five largest insurers in India.

The greater focus on Asia comes as part of a company strategy to reduce its dependence on European sales, which currently make up 95% of Aviva’s business.
Harvey has indicated that the insurance titan is aiming to make 10% of its sales in Asia by the end of the decade.

China and India represent two of the most dynamically growing markets in the world. The increase of life insurance products is particularly strong in China, where the government is encouraging the uptake of personal cover to reduce the national burden.

Currently Aviva is trailing behind its main UK rival, Prudential, in the race for operating licenses in China. Aviva expanded its portfolio of licenses to five as recently as mid-March with the addition of approvals to operate in the cities of Zhongshan in Guangdong province and Mianyang in Sichuan province. However, Prudential maintains the lead with seven licenses.