UK insurance leader Aviva has received regulatory approval for its joint venture company, Aviva-Cofco, to establish a branch based in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province, in south central China.

The approval lifts Aviva’s total number of licenses to 13 and fulfils the company strategy to keep pace with fellow foreign insurers Prudential plc and AIG.

In fact, according to a company statement, Aviva is closing in on its key goal of holding an average 10% market share in 10 provinces or municipal cities in China by 2010.

The company now has branches in six major cities, with seven more sub branches, and Aviva-Cofco is ranked fifth among foreign insurers in China, in terms of total premium income.

Charles Anderson, regional managing director of Aviva Asia, said: This new development is in line with our longer-term strategic growth ambitions for China and further extends our reach in this growing market.

However Aviva still remain one license behind major UK rival Prudential, which was recently awarded its 14th license for the city of Hangzhou.