Growing insurance awareness ‘creating new opportunities’

Updated 26 April 2013
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Growing insurance awareness ‘creating new opportunities’

The Kingdom offers great opportunities to the insurance business in the region, says Henri de Castries, chairman and CEO of AXA Group.
De Castries was addressing a press conference at the French embassy in Riyadh.
French Ambassador Bertrand Besancenot was also present at the event.
The visit of de Castries comes amid AXA delivering robust financial results in 2012.
It recorded revenues worth Euro 90.1 billion and underlying earnings amounting to Euro 4.3 billion in 2012, and had Euro 1,116 billion assets under management.
In the past decades, AXA Group has built the one of the largest insurers worldwide and is the number one global insurance brand for the fourth consecutive year.
“The Saudi insurance market is experiencing the fastest growth in the GCC region now representing over 35 percent of total Gross Written Premium of the region due to a fast growing economy and population and a low-insurance penetration,” de Castries said.
“We aim to support the current business model here by leveraging AXA Group’s strengths and expertise,” he said.
“The insurance market in the Kingdom has a great future and we are committed to work with the regulatory bodies, partners and teams here, who have made this success possible,” de Castries said, adding that the Kingdom is a key market for AXA as it shows strong growth opportunities and increasing risk awareness of the population.
“Thus there are growing insurance needs to be addressed,” he said.
“During the year, AXA maintained its growth and profitability across the globe with a strong focus on delivering its strategic plan “Ambition AXA” by being more selective and by shifting its new business toward more profitable segments that address evolving customer needs. Also, AXA Group has shared its willingness to invest more in the high growth markets.”
Regionally, AXA also recorded strong financials with a growth of more than 20 percent of its premiums reaching $ 626 million.
AXA has become the leading non-life international insurer in the GCC over the last years, he said.
AXA which operates in the Kingdom under AXA Cooperative Insurance Company, has been in the country for over 30 years and has established a strong presence in the Kingdom’s three economic centers, he said.
AXA Cooperative has strong growth plans for the Kingdom, and notably in the retail side (motor, home and travel insurance) on top of the sustainable increase of the commercial lines business driven by the public investments.
“The company wants to become more available and enhance customer experience by implementing its multi-access strategy. It has recently announced its expansion strategy to open nine new outlets in the country this year on the top of the existing three shops. It also plans to continue to invest in distant channels such as call center and digital to ensure a seamless experience for all its customers.
He added: “Our objective here is to become the preferred insurance company for customers, distributors, employees and shareholders in Saudi Arabia and ensure that AXA Cooperative is fully aligned with the market needs.”
Dwelling on the growth of AXA Cooperative since its formation, Jerome Droesch, chairman of AXA Cooperative Insurance, said: “We have seen amazing growth in the last five years and notably since receiving our licence in the country in February 2010 reaching SR 460 million in 2012.”
Droesch said: “We have continued to relentlessly pursue efficiencies and product innovations to extend competitive advantage and value for policyholders in the evolving market environment. We are committed to growing in this country by engaging and capacity building of Saudi nationals in the insurance sector.”
AXA Cooperative, supported by AXA Group, also announced it plans to continue to grow in the Kingdom in the coming years.
In doing so,Droesch said, AXA will further enhance its footprint and aim to increase customer service levels in Saudi Arabia .


NMC Health’s $450 million bond to boost Saudi expansion

Updated 23 April 2018
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NMC Health’s $450 million bond to boost Saudi expansion

  • The new capital structure — which will feature a mixture of unsecured bank and bond financing — will aid the company’s continued growth into Saudi Arabia.
  • The company first secured a foothold in the Kingdom in 2016 after acquiring a 70 percent stake in As Salama Hospital in Al-Khobar.

LONDON: The UAE-based private health care operator NMC Health has launched a $450 million senior unsecured guaranteed bond to help pay off an existing $1 billion bridge facility and support its expansion plans into Saudi Arabia.

The earlier bridging loan was part of the $2 billion capital structure refinancing put in place at the start of the year, the company said.

The bond is due in 2025 and is convertible into ordinary shares. JP Morgan is the sole bookrunner on the issuance. Bonds will have a fixed coupon rate of 1.875 percent, paid semi-annually.

The new capital structure — which will feature a mixture of unsecured bank and bond financing — will aid the company’s continued growth into Saudi Arabia, with NMC having been one of the first private health care providers to capitalize on the Saudi government’s health care privatization plans.

The company first secured a foothold in the Kingdom in 2016 after acquiring a 70 percent stake in As Salama Hospital in Al-Khobar.

Since then, NMC won regulatory approval last September for a new long-term care facility, the Chronic Care Specialty Medical Center, in Jeddah. It is though to be the first greenfield medical facility in the Kingdom to be set up by a non-Saudi company.

Earlier this year, NMC said it acquired an 80 percent stake in the Riyadh-based Al-Salam Medical Group.

NMC’s acquisition-led expansion strategy aims to ensure the company retains its recently-won place on London’s FTSE 100 index. It was one of the first Middle Eastern companies to join the index when it qualified last September. It first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2012.

The company posted strong growth in the last year, reporting $209.3 million in net profit for 2017, an increase of 38.2 percent on the previous year. The company paid out a total of $641 million in acquisitions last year.

“2017 proved to be a year of tremendous achievements for NMC,” said the firm’s chief executive Prasanth Manghat, in a statement in March.

NMC also secured secured its first public ratings of BB+ with a stable outlook from S&P on April 20, while Moody’s gave the firm rating of Ba1 with a stable outlook on April 20, 2018. The bonds are not expected to be rated.

“The company continues to strive to meet self-imposed standards that are higher when compared to what is expected of it by various regulators. This approach supports in turn its resilient business model, loyal customer base, strong brand recognition and market leading position,” according to a statement from Moody’s Investors Service.

Investors are so far reacting favorably to NMC’s strategy, with the company closing at a record high on April 20, according to Bloomberg reports, with a market value of $10.8 billion.

The company is now one of 24 equities in the region to have achieved a market capitalization of more than $10 billion, the report said.

Healthcare is seen as a lucrative sector in the Gulf due to its relatively wealthy population becoming increasingly at risk of problems related to obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes.