Ping An, the second ranked life insurer in China, has seen its pretax earnings for the first half grow by 83% to $513 million.

The company cited a favorable investment climate as the principal growth driver, with the Chinese appetite for savings and investment products increasing all the time as household incomes grow.

In July 2006 Ping An bought an 89% share of Shenzen Commercial Bank to expand into the retail banking field, which should bring lucrative cross-selling opportunities. Reuters reports that Ping An is looking to expand into mortgages, credit cards and wealth mangament services.

Furthering its exposure to banking, Ping An is itself part-owned by HSBC, which has a 19.9% share.