ING Groep's China insurance activities has picked up speed following the official opening of a Beijing branch in association with its joint venture partner Beijing Capital Life and the award of a licence to launch another branch in Shenyang, Liaoning province.

Based out of the northern port of Dalian, ING Capital Life Insurance received regulatory approval to start sales in Beijing in January 2005 and last month started sales of two bancassurance products through the Bank of Beijing, in which it holds a19.9% stake. It also plans to expand its bancassurance product range to include unit-linked, traditional life insurance, short-term accident insurance and personal loan products.

In conjecture with the official opening of its Beijing branch, ING Capital Life has also announced plans to develop other sales channels. The insurer is presently working on a cooperation plan with CTB I Venture Capital Co, part of its joint venture partner, in order to provide comprehensive protection and wealth management products.

North of the capital, the insurance joint venture has also announced that it has secured a separate licence to establish a second branch office in the city of Shenyang, which will become the first Sino-foreign JV to set up shop in the capital of Liaoning Province.

ING Capital's second branch plans to initially hire 300 agents to set up a product range which will include life and health insurance, accidental insurance and group insurance products. The group believes it will be able commence operations in the fourth quarter this year following receipt of an operational licence from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission and a business regulation licence from Shenyang city authorities.

Recently, ING Capital Insurance announced it had secured the paper work to underwrite group insurance and market its business in Liaoning Province, with the latest announcement expected to speed up the process.