INTERNATIONAL insurer Allianz Group has expanded its presence in Nigeria after completing a merger with Nigerian insurer Ensure Insurance, which will now trade as Ensure – a company of Allianz.
The deal, announced last year, was completed mid-July, with the Munich-headquartered insurer acquiring 99.03 percent of the shares in Lagos-headquartered Ensure from London-based insurance investor Greenoaks Global Holdings.
Ensure provides retail, reinsurance and corporate insurance and generated EUR 18.2bn in premiums last year.
Regional chief executive of Allianz Africa Coenraad Vrolijk said in a statement: ‘We are pleased to enter this fast-growing market through the acquisition of a solid financial player with strong local expertise. This new step of development will allow us to leverage the strength of the Allianz Group and the expertise of the Nigerian team to provide high quality products and services to Nigerian customers in both personal and commercial lines.’
Allianz said it sees Nigeria ‘as a high-potential market in Africa with a strong regulatory environment and promising demographics.’ The insurer has operations in 17 African countries and reports having clients in 39.
It came just a couple of months after Allianz acquired an 8 percent stake in African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re), headquartered in Lagos, the continent’s first and largest reinsurer. The deal was worth $81 million.
At the time, the Allianz board member responsible for global insurance and reinsurance in the Middle East and Africa, Niran Peiris, stated that the company had ‘identified Africa as one of the future growth markets.’
A study published late last year by international law firm Baker McKenzie predicted a rise in mergers and acquisitions in Nigeria and South Africa during 2018.
As the continent’s biggest economy, it is an obvious focus of interest for international investors, especially as the country seeks to diversify its economy in order to protect itself from future variations in the oil price. The government has committed to improving the ease of doing business, with economic growth happening across the West African region.
However, Nigeria has yet to commit to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was agreed by members of the African Union in March. With South Africa having now committed, there is plenty of scrutiny as to whether Nigeria will follow suit. It would be a blow to both Nigeria and to the credibility of AfCFTA if Nigeria fails to commit. President Muhammadu Buhari is believed to be in favour, but with an election due next year, is cautious about alienating the more protectionist forces in the Nigerian unions by committing to free trade until afterwards, so a commitment from the government may not come until 2019.