By Favour Nnabugwu
NATIONAL Insurance Commission (NAICOM) said that 12 insurance companies were acquired in the last three years. Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari, who made the disclosure in Abuja, said that there were three foreign acquisitions in 2014, two in 2015, five in 2016 while talks to acquire two companies are now in progress. Recall that any acquisition of 25 per cent or more of the shares of an insurance company is subject to approval by NAICOM. Foreign investors usually enter the Nigerian market through some form of mergers and acquisitions.
Notable among the acquisition was the Great Nigeria Insurance Plc’s completion of the sale of 75 per cent stake to Insurance Resourcery Consultancy Services Limited (IRCSL). Similarly, an Ivoirien insurer, Sunu Assurances Vie Cote d’Ivoire, earlier in the year, acquired a 60 per cent stake in Equity Assurance. Equally, Cornerstone Insurance bought FIN Insurance, making it a subsidiary while, South Africa’s Liberty Holdings is also acquiring a 75 percent stake in UNIC Insurance Plc, a Nigerian insurer, for $12 million, according to Liberty Chief Executive, Thabo Dloti.
“We see Nigeria as a market of the future. It may be having difficulties now, but everything indicates to us that in the long term, Nigeria is going to be a big contributor of growth if you are doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Dloti said. Standard Alliance Insurance Plc announced that it has formally merged with its sister company, Standard Life Assurance, to become one company, underwriting life and non-life insurance businesses.
The likes of Axa, Prudential, Liberty, Swiss RE, Sunu Group, Saham, etc. have taken positions in the industry and in partnership with indigenous companies for development and growth.
However, the presence of foreign insurers in the Nigerian market is another incentive expected to boost penetration, technical capacity and service delivery.