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UPDATE 1-Ping An Insurance sees first quarterly profit rise in a year

* Q3 net profit up year on year

* Retail customers up 7% at end-Sept vs Jan

* Warns demand still weaker than before pandemic (Adds detail, background)

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd on Tuesday reported a 7.74% rise in net profit, its first quarterly profit increase in a year, as the country’s largest insurer by market value attracted more retail customers.

Net profit rose to 34.4 billion yuan ($5.12 billion) in the three months to September 30 from 31.9 billion yuan a year earlier, Ping An said in a stock market filing in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

It reported 214 million retail customers as of the end of September, up 7% from January.

And in the first nine months of 2020, Ping An’s life and health insurance business, its main profit driver, generated 75.45 million yuan in operating profit, up 9.2% year on year.

However, its nine-month net profit fell 20.9% as COVID-19 adversely affecting its long-term protection business.

“Domestic consumption demand was still recovering, large-scale offline events were still restricted in China, and offline face-to-face meetings had not increased to pre-epidemic levels yet,” Ping An said.

In the short-term demand for insurance will “still be weaker than before the epidemic”, it said.

Ping An Insurance Group is the controlling shareholder of Ping An Bank, which reported a 6.1% rise in third-quarter net profit.

In September it said it had become British bank HSBC Holdings’ biggest shareholder, with an 8% stake.

The company’s lending arm Lufax Holding Ltd, one of China’s largest online wealth management platforms, this month filed to list in the United States, aiming to raise about $3 billion, Reuters reported.

Shanghai shares of Ping An have fallen 5.1% this year versus a 2.5% drop in the blue-chip China financials index.

The group has a market value of $212.3 billion as of Tuesday.

$1 = 6.7029 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Cheng Leng and Zhang Yan in Beijing, Engen Tham in Shanghai; editing by Jason Neely

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