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SEM acquires 22% of UK-based MicroEnsure Holdings

05 June 2014 Heinie Werth, SEM
Heinie Werth, Chief Executive Officer of SEM.

Heinie Werth, Chief Executive Officer of SEM.

Sanlam Emerging Markets Proprietary Limited (SEM) today announced that it has acquired a stake in UK-based micro-insurance provider, MicroEnsure Holdings Ltd (MicroEnsure). The company has a strong footprint in emerging markets that overlaps with that of SEM in Africa, India and South-East Asia.

In terms of the deal, Sanlam will take up a 22% shareholding for an undisclosed amount.

Heinie Werth, Chief Executive Officer of SEM, says the partnership is in line with Sanlam’s stated strategy of pursuing value-creating growth opportunities and reaching the lower income segments that also have insurance needs in emerging markets. "We see micro-insurance – which includes the buying of insurance products through mobile phones at premiums of $1,50 per month or lower – as a substantial opportunity for growth across all our markets. Micro-insurance is gaining momentum and appeal in emerging markets worldwide, since the products are easy to access, simple to understand, they require minimal paperwork, and are cost-effective.

"Our partnership with MicroEnsure will complement us well on the high volume, low premium micro insurance side for both life and non-life products where we will be the preferred insurance provider. In addition to this, MicroEnsure overlaps our footprint across Africa and India with future opportunities in Malaysia and South East Asia. We regard the company as the ideal partner through which to extend our micro-insurance offering. MicroEnsure provides insurance distribution, products and services globally, primarily to the uninsured and underinsured,” says Werth.

He said the deal would facilitate inroads for SEM in the as yet underdeveloped micro-insurance space and it could also provide SEM with new potential cooperation opportunities through MicroEnsure’s partnerships with mobile operators such as partner Telenor ASA who are also shareholders.

As at 30 April 2014, MicroEnsure had 7.6m enrolled clients globally of which approximately 4.8m were in Africa and 2.8m were in Asia.

Says MircroEnsure CEO, Richard Leftley: "MicroEnsure is delighted to have Sanlam Emerging Markets and the Axa Group invest in the Group and join Telenor, IFC, Omidyar Network and Opportunity as strategic investors. Their underwriting capacity and skills will be critical as we continue to rapidly expand and reach millions of low and middle income families in new territories.”

Werth concluded: "The shareholder base of MicroEnsure which includes companies such as Opportunity International Inc, Omidyar Network Fund Inc, International Finance Corporation, Telenor ASA and AXA SA will also provide SEM with new potential cooperation opportunities.”

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