China, Hong Kong drive insurer AIA Group's new business in 1st qtr

(Adds details on results)

April 27 (Reuters) - AIA Group Ltd, the world's

third-largest life insurer by market value, posted a 55 percent

rise in its new business in the first quarter, helped by a surge

in sales in China and Hong Kong.

Over the past seven years, the company has expanded rapidly

into growth markets including India and China, leading to a

quadrupling in the value of new business at AIA to $2.8 billion

between 2010 and November 2016, according to the company.

The insurer's value of new business, which measures expected

profits from new premiums and is a key gauge for growth, rose to

$884 million during the quarter, up from $578 million in the

same period a year ago, the company said.

The strong results follow the group's robust performance in

2016, which was buoyed by steady demand for policies in Hong

Kong, with mainland Chinese seeking overseas investment

opportunities to cushion the impact of a weakening yuan.

China and Hong Kong together account for about half of new

business growth globally at AIA, originally founded in Shanghai

nearly 100 years ago and the first foreign insurer to be granted

a license in China.

AIA last month named Ng Keng Hooi as its new chief executive

to replace Mark Tucker, who is leaving the company to join HSBC

HSBC as its new chairman in October.

On Thursday, the company said Hooi would formally assume the

role of chief executive officer from June 1, a date it had not

previously announced. Tucker will remain as a non-executive

director of the group until Aug. 31.

(Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by

Savio D'Souza and Grant McCool)