CEO Asia Gary Crist focuses on a few of his key highlights of the year for our businesses across Asia.
2020 saw a very practical response to the COVID-19 crisis, that showed the power of the Ageas network. When the crisis first hit in China, it was clear that there was an urgent shortage of medical supplies. Thanks to the Ageas network and our relationship with government entities around the world, we were able to quickly source medical equipment and protective supplies from Portugal, Belgium and Thailand, delivering these through the Ageas network into Hong Kong and exporting them to Wuhan’s medical professionals. In return, when the crisis hit Europe, Taiping Life, our partner in China sourced materials from China and delivered these to hospitals in urgent need in Italy and Spain. This represented a major logistical challenge. And while coordinating this mammoth effort, we continued to take care of our customers and play our role in society.
Over the past year we appreciated the importance of being agile and adaptable. But we also feel reassured that when tested, our digital capabilities worked well allowing us to work from home quickly and efficiently. But more than that, we gained confidence in our ability to interact with customers digitally. In Thailand and the Philippines digitally enabled sales of more complex products has historically been prohibited. But regulators allowed us to adapt and use distancing technologies to hold virtual meetings with customers and to introduce digital solutions. As we look forward this provides us with stronger and broader capabilities to engage with our customers.
As we enter the final stage of Connect21, we will continue to focus on our strategic choices, one of which is the development of new partnerships. One of our most recent examples is with Singtel, the market leader in telecommunications in Singapore. By joining forces with Singtel, we have transformed our relatively small entity in Singapore into one that allows us to significantly increase our distribution partners to facilitate the sale of insurance products, strengthening our market position. Through a combination of expertise in marketing, product development and IT, a compelling solution related to savings products was developed with Singtel, which has placed our products on their expansive platform.
At the same time, we have been building on existing partnerships, the most significant being a 25% investment in Taiping Reinsurance, part of the China Taiping Group with whom Ageas has enjoyed a 20-year relationship. Moving into the reinsurance space adds a level of diversity to our portfolio which also reflects Ageas’s choice for a balanced Life and Non-life portfolio. We also increased our presence in the Indian Life insurance market, acquiring part of the IDBI stake in our joint venture, now rebranded as Ageas Federal Life. This will allow us to step up in an important Life insurance market which is projected to grow significantly in the coming years. The increased stake taking us to 49% allows us to participate more proactively in the management and to work closely with Federal Bank and IDBI to build our distribution capacity further.
And finally, our local operating companies have made strides in developing a great customer experience, designing specific products for new needs in the market. As an example in Thailand, where a strong focus on promoting Health protection in 2020 led to Muang Thai Life being distinguished with two awards in the Product of the Year Awards 2020, hosted by BUSINESS+ magazine and Mahidol University. The Elite Health Rider product offers exceptional health coverage with special benefits in case of injuries and illness, and the D Health Rider is a unique new life and health insurance product that focuses specifically on medical expenses in the event of hospitalisation. And thanks to our ability to leverage our data analytics capabilities, we could build a stronger modelling capability for motor renewals in India, allowing us to match customer needs more accurately with a deeper proposition and better pricing.
Our ambition for 2021 focuses on three critical things. We must firstly deliver the added Ageas value promised to our new partner Taiping Re; secondly, we will work closely with Federal Bank and IDBI to build our distribution capacity and make Ageas Federal Life Insurance a more robust competitor in the Indian market; and thirdly, we will deliver on our customer promises and exceed customer expectations, against the many customer journey projects we have already mapped out.