Manulife-Sinochem (MSL) said that it has been granted two new licenses from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to operate in Linyi, a city in Shandong province and Yancheng in Jiangsu province, bringing MSL's total licenses to 41.

The company said that Linyi had maintained efficient economic development throughout the financial crisis, increasing its gross domestic product (GDP) by 18% in 2008 over 2007. Insurance premium income in the city was RMB3317m in 2008, an increase of 46.8% compared to 2008.

Yancheng, in central Jiangsu, reported a GDP of RMB162.3bn in 2008, an increase of 13% from the previous year while premium income in 2008 reaching RMB3.71bn, an increase of 40% over 2007.

MSL, a joint venture company between Manulife and China Foreign Economy and Trade Trust Company, provides financial and insurance services to over 500,000 customers. With this new approval, the company is licensed in cities which are home to around 300 million individuals.

Marc Sterling, chairman of MSL, said: “We are very pleased to be able to open new sales offices in Yancheng and Linyi and look forward to providing these two new markets the quality insurance products and excellent service Manulife-Sinochem is known for.”

James Lin, president of Manulife-Sinochem, said: “With 14 years experience in the areas of agency training, product design, market exploration and customer service in China, Manulife-Sinochem looks forward to rapid development in the insurance market of these two important locations.”