International banking group HSBC has set a target to more than double its profits in its insurance division over the next five years, in a bid to become a global leader in the insurance industry, according to The Times.

The newspaper stated that the bank was aiming to increase its profits from approximately $2 billion, or 10% of the group’s profits, in 2005 to around 20% by 2012.

The new plan will represent the first major strategic move by executive chairman Stephen Green and chief executive Michael Geoghegan since they were appointed their new roles in May 2006.

Bankers, cited in The Times, have stated that they expect HSBC to achieve its ambitious target through a series of strategic acquisitions.

In other HSBC news, the bank has launched a new credit insurance policy to cover home loan repayments in Malta. The cover is optional and can be taken out by a borrower in order to provide some cover for unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment, accident or sickness.