A story of twists and turns

Chennai: Perhaps no other insurance joint venture has seen such twists and turns as the city-based AMP Sanmar Life Insurance Company Limited in a matter of three years.

The Sanmar-AMP life story is one of several twists and turns from right from the start.

Sanmar initially wanted to enter the general insurance business and had a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GIO Australia Holdings Limited, Australia. At that time GIO's Indian representative was SV Mony, now vice chairman, AMP Sanmar Life Insurance Company Limited. However GIO was taken over by AMP in Australia and a decision was taken to scrap any overseas non life ventures.

With no other choice, Sanmar began looking out for another foreign partner.

Interestingly AMP had an MoU with Unit Trust of India (UTI) for a life insurance venture. In a surprise move, AMP decided to scrap the MoU and join hands with Sanmar to start a life insurance company. Perhaps, the decision was taken to avoid clash of interests with UTI as and when the pension sector was opened up or on the issue of management control.

In a sudden turn of events Sanmar and AMP joined hands to float a life insurance company. Initially the company was named as AMP Sanmar Assurance Company Limited. Subsequently the name was changed to AMP Sanmar Life.

In 2003 AMP decided to become a regionally focused wealth management company. And that sowed the seed for a relook of its existing ventures.

As a part of its corporate restructuring, AMP brought in its customer services director Graham Meyer, as managing director of its Indian joint venture. Consequently the chief executive officer, Mony, was elevated to vice-chairman. In addition B Natraj, an old hand at the Sanmar group, was appointed as chief operating officer.

Now AMP has announced its decision to exit the Indian life insurance venture to focus on its wealth management business. The Indian group too has voiced its intention to exit the venture. However, the group is still keeping its options open as to whether to go it alone or find another partner or investor. So watch out for further turns and twists.