New majority shareholders in Metropolitan Insurance Company (MET Insurance), Hollard Insurance of South Africa, has pledged to invest in information technology infrastructure and build the capacity of staff and brokers to ensure that the company penetrates deeper into the Ghanaian market.
With 51 per cent majority shareholding in the local business which has blazed the trail in general business insurance for decades, MET Insurance hopes to translate the strategic partnership with Hollard into about 25 per cent growth on its gross premium income by the close of this year and further by 30 per cent yearly into the medium.
The Managing Director of Met Insurance, Mr Kwame Gazo-Agbenyadzie, told the Daily Graphic at the inauguration of the company’s new head office in Accra yesterday that the partnership went beyond injection of funds, with focus on expertise in product development, robust information and communication technology (ICT) platform that would enable the company to expand its hold on the local market.
MET Insurance moved into its new offices at the Airport West, near the by DigiSaver” href=”#”>Gold House at the end of last year. It typifies the revival sweeping across the company as it welcomes its new partners, Hollard and parent company, IVM Intersurer of South Africa, which will work with local people to further drive the growth of the business.
“What we were looking for was expertise for product development, a very robust ICT platform which will enable us to reach further than we’re reaching now; and we were looking for skills development and a company that can generally help us to uplift the fortunes of this company,” Mr Gazo-Agbenyadzie said, adding, “In the next three to four years you will see significant changes.”
STTAR Trust, a private trust established by Sir Sam Jonah as an investment trust for the benefit of the Jonah family, and Ghana Reinsurance Company Limited (Ghana Re), the state-owned international reinsurer, own the rest of the 49 per cent in the company. Both major local shareholders in MET have pledged their commitment to the growth of MET and to remain shareholders in the business.
This year alone, MET has plans to open seven new distribution outlets managed by trained brokers which it calls Met2U offices.
“MET has a lot of potential but we were restricted by capital. So this will strengthen our balance sheet and meet the solvency requirement of the insurance regular,” the CEO of MET Insurance said.
Indeed, Hollard is a large corporation with a global reach. Based in South Africa, the insurance group has a global strategy which has seen it open branches in China, India, Pakistan as well as Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana. Ghana is its first stop on its West Africa road map, after three years of discussions with MET Insurance.
“Our turnover is $1.4 billion, our assets $2.4 billion and profit before tax of $250 million. So we have significant financial strength to invest in MET,” the Chief Financial Officer of Hollard, Mr Brooks Mparutsa, said at the inauguration which also saw the announcement of the acquisition.
He said the company chose MET insurance because of the wealth of skills of staff and its reach in the market, adding that the local insurance industry also held a lot of potential.
“We have low insurance penetration of about two per cent, but the general industry grew at 25 per cent over the past five years.So there is great potential which we believe with our expertise in product design and development, IT infrastructure and capacity building we should partner MET Insurance to penetrate the market further,” Mr Mparutsa said.
Ghana’s short-term insurance industry (general business) generated turnover of over US$150 million in 2013, but more significantly grew by over 25 per cent over the past five years, which makes it one of the most rapidly growing insurance markets in the world.
The Deputy Insurance Commissioner, Mr Nero Davor, charged the new owners of MET Insurance to improve the achievements of MET, which he said was a respected player in the insurance industry in Ghana.