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Sompo Japan to buy 6% more in Universal Sompo from Karnataka Bank for Rs 125 crore


KOLKATA: Japanese general insurer Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance would pay Rs 125 crore to buy 6% more stake in Universal Sompo General Insurance, India's first insurance company where three banks are promoters.

Sompo would buy the stake from Karnataka Bank, which holds 14.26% in the joint venture, Universal Sompo chairman O N Singh said.

Non-bank promoter Dabur Investment Corporation would also buy about 2% stake in the company from the private sector lender for Rs 42 crore.

The deals, which are awaiting approval of the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority (Irda), would reinforce the attractiveness of the general insurance industry that has seen entities such as Prem WatsasFairfax break from ICICI Lombard last year.

While Sompo's stake would rise to 34.6% post the deal, Daburs would rise to 12.8%

Karnataka Bank has signed share purchase agreements with Sompo and Dabur to this end, which comes close on the heels of Universal Sompos Rs 100 crore rights issue in the fourth quarter. Karnataka Bank will sell over 3 crore shares for Rs 55 a piece to Sompo and Dabur.

The rights issue of shares was only subscribed by Sompo and Dabur while Karnataka Bank and other promoters, Allahabad Bank and Indian Overseas Bank, did not subscribe to it.

The government has directed banks to get out of core business and concentrate where they have natural expertise.

Post the rights issue, Sompos shareholding rose to 28.42% from 26%. Karnataka Banks holding fell to 14.26% from 15%. Allahabad Banks holding is now 28.52%, down from 30%, and IOBs is down to 18.06% from 19%. Daburs interest rose to 10.74% from 10%.

“The year 2017-18 can be termed as very eventful as the company has been able to infuse additional capital of Rs100 crore at fair market value,” chairman Singh said.

The general insurance firm made a net profit of Rs 296.6 crore in FY18 as against Rs 49 crore in FY17. This has enabled the company to raise its net worth to Rs 750 crore from Rs 354 crore in the preceding fiscal, wiping out the carried forward losses of Rs 82 crore. The company has shown an underwriting profit of Rs 289 crore in FY18 as against a loss of Rs 71 crore in FY17. Its solvency margin has improved to 2.30%.

The company achieved gross written premium of Rs 2,313 crore, backed by crop insurance, motor and individual health insurance.

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