Recapitalisation:  IIF Invests N3.6b in Royal Exchange General Insurance

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By John Edet, Lagos

Following the National Insurance Commission’s (NAICOM) directive for insurance companies to increase their share capital in line with the new regulatory requirements recently introduced, Royal Exchange Plc has announced the 39.25 percent acquisition in its general insurance subsidiary, Royal Exchange General Insurance Company (REGIC) by InsuResilience Investment Fund (IIF).

The acquisition, which results in a N3.6b capital injection into the Royal Exchange General Insurance (REGIC) has received the approval of NAICOM and the regulator has equally issued a Letter of ‘No Objection’ to Royal Exchange General Insurance Company (REGIC), while the Nigerian Stock Exchange has been duly notified, as the parent company, Royal Exchange Plc, is quoted on the exchange.

As one of the leading non-life insurance companies operating in the insurance market in the country and having a strong presence in the agric-insurance space through its partnerships with The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and some state governments, this investment by the IIF is expected to have a huge impact on the company’s presence in the agric-insurance space to enable REGIC increase its presence even further.

The proceeds of the investment will help REGIC to spur growth by increasing its risk capital and supporting its underwriting capacity in agriculture, hereby extending its outreach to low income farmers.

Speaking on the importance of this strategic investment at a media parley in Lagos, Mr. Benjamin Agili, Managing Director, Royal Exchange General Insurance said “With this investment, REGIC will be able to achieve its key objective of reaching out to over 1million farmers within the next five years, offering the best-of-bred agric-insurance services to enable them increase their productivity, make Nigeria more self-reliant in food production, which impacts the economy with growth of our GDP and the agro-allied economy”.

He further added, “Other strategic impacts this investment will bring to the company will be in the areas of Information Technology, Market Expansion, as well as helping the company meet its financial inclusion targets by enabling REGIC develop new products, as well as create alternative channels of distribution to reach our various clientele, especially those who are financially excluded as a result of accessibility, availability and knowledge of insurance and how insurance can improve their well-being.”

“The history, team and commitment of REGIC to agriculture insurance make it a great addition to our portfolio.  REGIC is uniquely positioned to capture the opportunity presented by 30 million under insured small scale farmers in Nigeria. We are thrilled to partner with and support REGIC with capital, technical assistance and our international network in the agriculture insurance space, with the objective to increase the resilience of small scale farmers to climate change“, added Ernesto Costa, Senior Vice-President Private Equity at BlueOrchard.

Also speaking on the investment, Mr. Kenny Ezenwani Odogwu, Chairman, Royal Exchange Plc, said, “REGIC has entered into strategic alliances with various stakeholders in the agricultural space to drive insurance within that sector of the economy. Agriculture and retail insurance, we believe is the future of insurance and at Royal Exchange, we will continue to develop products and services to ensure that we remain relevant in this space.

REGIC is determined to take advantage of growth initiatives available in the industry. Our strategy has always been to ensure we attract the best technical experts globally and capital to meet regulatory requirements and the needs of our stakeholders in the 5 subsidiaries where we currently have 100% shareholding.

Mr. Odogwu further added “people need to understand that insurance is an enabler of the economy and is needed to bolster the agriculture industry (20% of GDP) which is a major priority for the Government. Royal Exchange has entered into strategic alliances with various stakeholders in the agricultural space.

“We will continue to develop products and services to strengthen our leading position in this space while leveraging technology to expand our revenue base and ultimately, our bottom-line. We will soon be expecting major investments in other subsidiaries of the group, namely, our life insurance firm, the HMO, micro-finance bank and the finance company.“

Ernst & Young Nigeria acted as the financial due diligence advisor to IIF, while Alkebulan Limited acted as financial and corporate advisers to Royal Exchange General Insurance Company (REGIC) for the transaction. Udo Udoma& Belo-Osagie acted as the exclusive legal advisor to IIF while Sefton Fross acted as legal advisor to REGIC.

Luxembourg-based IIF was set up by KfW, the German Development Bank, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The overall objective of the IIF is to contribute to the adaptation to climate change by improving access to and the use of insurance in developing countries. The specific objective of the fund is to reduce the vulnerability of low-income households and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) to extreme weather events.

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