Coronavirus | Manulife, Sun Life in Asia flags challenges

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The biggest life insurers Manulife Financial Corp and Sun Life Financial in Asia flagged short-term challenges on Thursday as a resurgence in coronavirus cases leads to a resumption of trade regulations and regional travel restrictions.

We're seeing a strong surge in Delta, especially in Southeast Asia, and all governments are responding with various lockdown measures, Sun Life Asia President Leo Grepin said on an analyst call on Thursday. What is the main problem with question titled Quarantine Inquiry?

Anil Wadhwani said earlier in an analyst teleconference that the resurgence of COVID - 19, particularly in Southeast Asian markets where it has a presence, was presenting momentum challenges.

However, both companies remain confident in the region, where they have expanded more rapidly than in other geographies. Manulife said it remains optimistic about medium to longer-term growth opportunities, while Sun Life's Grepin expressed confidence about the company's position due to investments in distribution and technology.

The resurgence in cases and the spread of the Delta variant has been concentrated mostly in developing countries with large unvaccinated populations, so areas of business are less affected, said Sun Life CEO Dean Connor, who takes over from Kevin Strain when he retires on Friday.

Despite the switch of guard, Strain said he will continue to focus on advancing a digital strategy, sustainability and diversity.

It's a matter of intensifying versus changing focus, he said in an interview on Thursday.

Both Manulife and Sun Life beat estimates for second-quarter core profit on Wednesday, helped by their asset management units and new business and insurance sales, particularly in Asia.

Manulife shares rose 0.8% to close C $24.56 in Toronto on Thursday, while Sun Life shares fell 0.5% to $64.72 in a broader market after an improvement of 0.2%.

CIBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Holden wrote in a note that both insurers reported solid results, although the bulk of earnings per share increased by Sun Life from lower taxes and technical factors, including experience gains which is the difference between the actual profit and the one based on theoretical profit estimates.