Bri­tish rein­surer hunts for clients in 38 African states

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Re­nee Bonorchis

ONE Re, the first rein­surer ap­proved un­der Bri­tain’s “twin peaks” sys­tem of fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tion, was seek­ing clients across 38 African coun­tries in the next year as growth out­paces de­vel­oped re­gions.

One Re, started by Jo­han­nes­burg­born brothers An­drew and Robert Lewis in 2012, al­ready has clients signed up in Mozam­bique, An­gola and Le­sotho. Chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Lewis cre­ated in­surer Global Al­liance in 2001 be­fore sell­ing its op­er­a­tions to var­i­ous buy­ers in­clud­ing Bar­clays Africa Group in 2011.

“In sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa there are 38 coun­tries we have iden­ti­fied and we are go­ing in look­ing for lo­cal in­sur­ers that we will in­sure,” London-based An­drew Lewis said in an in­ter­view in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day. Lloyd’s of London, Sir­ius In­ter­na­tional In­surance Group and Canopius Rein­sur­ance were sup­port­ing One Re, he said.

The UK rein­surer, which will part­ner with just one in­surer in each coun­try, was funded by the Lewis brothers who each con­trib­uted $25 mil­lion (R274m). In five years it would prob­a­bly seek to raise about $100m, ac­cord­ing to An­drew.

Global in­surance com­pa­nies are eval­u­at­ing mar­kets in Africa where mil­lions of peo­ple are earn­ing enough to af­ford business cover and pro­tec­tion for the first time. Some of the firms are gain­ing in­sights into the con­ti­nent by work­ing with One Re.

“The ap­petite is there for Africa,” Lewis said. “We are a gate­way to Africa for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. To deal with any risks we are di­ver­si­fy­ing risk as much as pos­si­ble, so there is the 38 coun­tries.”

In­surance pen­e­tra­tion for Africa, mea­sured as a per­cent­age of pre­mi­ums to gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, was 3.5 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers re­port re­leased in South Africa in Oc­to­ber.

We are a gate­way to Africa for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. To deal with any risks we are di­ver­si­fy­ing risk as much as pos­si­ble…

That is more than the emerg­ing mar­kets’ av­er­age of 2.7 per­cent and lower than the av­er­age for ad­vanced mar­kets of 8.3 per­cent.

Re­vised reg­u­la­tions in the UK have di­vided re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­tween the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity and the Pru­den­tial Reg­u­la­tion Au­thor­ity, an arm of the Bank of Eng­land de­signed to su­per­vise cap­i­tal and liq­uid­ity re­quire­ments at banks, in­sur­ers and in­vest­ment firms.

To boost its op­er­a­tions One Re had also set up a train­ing cen­tre in South Africa, ac­cord­ing to Lewis. In-coun­try train­ing, skills de­vel­op­ment and knowl­edge trans­fer would support the growth of Africa’s rein­sur­ance mar­kets, he said. – Bloomberg

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