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The People's Insurance Co. of China will be disbanded as part of insurance reforms in China. Three PICC units -- property, life and reinsurance -- are expected to become independent companies, operating under a state insurance regulatory commission. . . .Zurich Financial Services, the new company being created by the merger of Swiss insurer Zurich Group and the financial services business of B.A.T Industries P.L.C. (BI, Aug. 3), is expected to start officially operating as a new entity Sept. 7. Both Zurich and B.A.T expect all necess-ary regulatory approvals to be met before then. . . .About one in four Lloyd's of London syndicates will record losses on their 1998 and 1999 years of account, according to syndicate analysis by Moody's Investors Service. About one-third of syndicates forecast to make profits of less than 5% of capacity. "Many of these could easily move into the red if a serious catastrophe loss impacts Lloyd's," said Mark Hewlett, managing director of Moody's European property/casualty and reinsurance division. Assuming a "normal" incidence of loss, Moody's is forecasting an overall Lloyd's global profit of between 1.9% and 2.8% of capacity in 1998 and 1999. Lloyd's 1998 capacity is L10.13 billion ($16.71 billion). . . .A total of L231.8 million ($379.6 million) of Lloyd's market capacity for 1999 was successfully auctioned last week. The auction was the fourth in a series of six being held in London from July to September to raise syndicate capacity for Lloyd's 1999 underwriting year (BI, July 20). . . .Jean-Paul Lasserre has been appointed executive vp of Paris-based Caisse Centrale de Reassurances. Mr. Lasserre most recently was general manager of French reinsurer SOREMA and previously worked for French reinsurer SCOR in Paris and Toronto. . . .The London P&I Club, a protection and indemnity mutual insurer for ship-owners, said its latest financial results justify its continued conservative underwriting policy. The club's 1997-1998 annual report shows a 15% increase in returns on investment, total assets of $447 million, up 10%, and accumulated reserves of $127 million, up 23%. Chairman John Lyras said the P&I club continues to turn away the majority of business offered to it, instead focusing on well-established shipowners operating in bulk trades from major shipping centers. . . .Estonian insurer Nordika Insurance Ltd. has sold 30% of its capital to investment funds managed by Scottish investment manager Hodgson Martin Ltd. The funds have invested $2 million in Nordika and, depending on the insurer's performance, will make another $1 million investment in a year's time. Alan Hodgson, managing director of Hodgson Martin, said Estonia's financial sector has had difficulties but that there are still exciting growth opportunities. . . .Australian life insurer Colonial Ltd. has acquired the Australian and New Zealand life business of U.K.-based insurer Prudential Ltd. for $1.35 billion Australian ($762.5 million). The purchase will make Colonial the second-largest life insurer and fourth-largest fund manager in Australia and New Zealand. . . .A Lloyd's of London disciplinary tribunal has banned and fined Michael Cowie, former managing director of the aviation division of Bain Hogg International Ltd., for alleged embezzlement. Between 1987 and 1996, Mr. Cowie channeled premiums totaling at least $500,000 from French insurer Groupe d'Interet Economique Aviafrance through a third-party commission account to private bank accounts belonging to an Aviafrance executive, according to the tribunal. In return, Mr. Cowie received payments totaling at least $100,000, the tribunal charged. Bain Hogg fired Mr. Cowie on Nov. 8, 1996, after learning of the payments. He has since repaid the money plus interest. Lloyd's has fined Mr. Cowie L80,000 ($131,000) and ordered him to pay costs of L17,578 ($28,787). Details relating to the case have been passed to the City of London Police.