The Managing Director and chief executive, Equity Assurance Plc, Dr. Ekpe Ukpabio, has predicted that with the liberalization and diversification of the economy, there will continue to be influx of foreign investors into the insurance industry.
Besides, he said, with an insurance penetration level of one percent, there are large opportunities in the industry to be exploited because of the large untapped market in the sector.
Speaking to The Guardian at the backdrop of recent acquisition of 60 per cent equity of Equity Assurance Plc by SUNU Assurance Group (a Franco-phone African Insurance Group), he explained that insurance business is capital driven, the influx of equity investors will continue to be attracted because of the large market potentials yet to be exploited. He, however, advised local investors to try as much as possible not to allow a complete take-over by foreign investors.
On the progress made following the acquisition, he said “We have just concluded a strategic investment with SUNU, a Franco-phone African Insurance Group for the equity acquisition. This arrangement puts SUNU Assurance as the majority shareholder of Equity Assurance Plc with 60 per cent ownership while the existing shareholders have collapsed their ownership to 40 per cent. The paid up capital of Equity Assurance is now N7 billion clearly beyond the required N3 billion for a non-life general business insurance company in Nigeria.”
According to Ekpe, “the new investment is in line with the vision of Equity Assurance, that is, to be a leading Africa insurance group. SUNU Assurance is present in 12 Franco-phone African countries while Equity Assurance is present in three Anglo-phone countries. This arrangement brings about market presence in 15 African countries and Equity Assurance now belongs to a major insurance conglomerate in the continent. We hope to leverage on this to maximize all the possible economies of scale including market competition for the overall benefit of our stakeholders”
He said that in spite of difficulties in the economy and fall in prices of oil, the federal budget indicates diversification to other sectors of revenue generation ventures and this will improve economic activities in the country which will in turn bring about demand for insurance services. Also the on-going war against corruption in our society generally will change the way businesses are transacted and there will be accountability, proper implementation of policies and execution of projects.