New India Assurance plans to raise stake in Nigerian JV

Mumbai: The New India Assurance Co Ltd, the state-owned general insurance giant, plans to raise its stake in Prestige Assurance, its joint venture unit set up with the Nigerian government, to 65 per cent from 47 per cent.

According to Bimalendu Chakrabarti, chairman and managing director, New India Assurance, the Nigerian government has changed the solvency norms, and the amount of capital to be invested has consequently increased. "We are in the process of infusing additional capital, which will increase our holding substantially," said Chakrabarti.

New India, which is the largest non-life insurance company in the Afro-Asian region, excluding Japan, sees plenty of opportunities in the African nation.Soaring oil prices have significantly improved economic prospects in Nigeria, where a lot of Indian firms are taking keen interest.

The company is also strengthening its overseas operations in countries like Trinidad, Tobago and in the Middle East.

"We are eyeing a significant growth in our international operations," said Chakrabarti.

"We will consolidate our business in the countries we are present in, instead of expanding to other destinations," he added.

New India also plans to launch new products in Saudi Arabia, together with the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India. With the introduction of a detariffied regime from early next year, the three state-owned non-life insurers will face stiff competition from the private players in the domestic markets.

New India's gross direct global premium income has gone up by 11.22 per cent to Rs5,675.55 crore in 2005-06. Its domestic gross premium income grew by nearly 14 per cent to Rs4,791.5 crore, while overseas gross premium fell marginally by nearly one per cent to Rs884.05 crore.