IFC plans $124m investment in Medgulf
Manama, February 22, 2012
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is investing up to $124 million in the Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Company (Medgulf), a leading regional insurer which has a major presence in Bahrain.
The investment will help the firm extend its health and commercial risk insurance services across the Mena region, where low coverage rates hinder economic development.
IFC's acquisition of up to a 15 per cent equity stake in Medgulf, will support the company as it looks to expand into Egypt, Iraq and Turkey, where many people lack insurance coverage.
'The partnership with IFC will help Medgulf grow its operational capabilities to extend security to people who would otherwise have limited means of coping with calamities,' said Medgulf chairman Lutfi El Zein.
'While shortage of insurance coverage in the Middle East remains severe, Medgulf has a strong strategic vision and the capacity to meet rising demand.'
The Middle East has the lowest rates of insurance coverage in the world, with gross premiums around 1pc of regional GDP, which breeds uncertainty within households, hindering investment and job creation.
In the Mena region, the share of the population aged 65 years and older is expected to more than triple by 2050, demanding an increase in health, life, and pension insurance services.
'IFC's investment in Medgulf supports our strategy to help extend essential services to underserved parts of the population by encouraging cross-border investments within the region,' said IFC vice-president for Eastern and Southern Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa Dimitiris Tsitsirgaros.
'Addressing insurance needs in the region will make it easier for people to access healthcare, while an increased sense of security will help businesses grow,' he remarked.
According to him, this investment will also help institutionalise best practices in the insurance sector, where Medgulf is a model of sound corporate governance and transparency.
'It is part of IFC's efforts in the Mena region to promote economic development by supporting private enterprise. In the last year, IFC has invested more than $2 billion in the region,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service