Sun Life CEO sees Asian, asset management units driving growth

Wed May 6, 2015 2:02pm EDT
 
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By John Tilak

TORONTO May 6 (Reuters) - Canadian insurer Sun Life Financial Inc expects gains in its Asian and asset management segments to drive growth this year and beyond, it's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Sun Life CEO Dean Connor's comments came a day after the company, whose rivals include Manulife Financial Corp and Great-West Lifeco Inc, reported a first-quarter profit that topped market expectations and raised its quarterly dividend.

Shares of Toronto-based Sun Life climbed 1.1 percent to $39.84 on Wednesday, despite a sell-off in the broader market.

"We feel good about the business momentum. We see a lot of drivers of growth," Connor told reporters after the company's annual meeting in Toronto.

Connor was particularly optimistic about prospects in the Philippines, where the company is a major player. He expects the operation there to continue to record double-digit sales growth.

"It's been growing rapidly for us in the last five years, and we see that continuing into the future," he said.

"There's this demographic dividend," he added. "As this bulge of people pushes through, gets older, needs insurance, has more disposable income, we see that playing out market by market in Asia."

The Philippines could also benefit from a potential free trade agreement between the ASEAN countries, Connor said.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino is expected to visit Canada later this week. (Reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Paul Simao)