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Japan: MSI ramps up overseas presence in Sri Lanka and South Africa

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Sep 2015

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (MSI), a member of Japanese insurance giant MS&AD, has acquired a stake in Ceylinco Insurance, one of the largest insurance groups in Sri Lanka, and set up an office in Johannesburg, South Africa.
   MSI said it had acquired 1.2 million shares in Ceylinco Insurance for LKR1.92 billion (US$14.43 million). The Ceylinco Group has the largest life and second biggest non-life business in Sri Lanka.
   “This investment will further expand MSI’s network in the Asia region, and it is the first investment in Sri Lanka by a Japanese insurance company. MSI will continue to expand its base of operations in the fast-growing Asia region and develop its international business,” the Japanese insurer said in a statement.
   Sri Lanka’s economy has grown steadily since the end of its civil war in 2009, and it has posted average GDP growth of about 6-8% annually. While Sri Lanka’s insurance market has experienced rapid growth, outgrowing the pace of economic expansion of the country, insurance penetration remains extremely low: non-life insurance premiums stand at 0.6% relative to GDP, while life insurance amount to 0.5% of the country’s GDP. 
Research and serving the needs of Japanese-owned firms in Johannesburg
   Of its decision to establish an office in Johannesburg, MSI said that the goal is to conduct research into the insurance markets in the sub-Saharan region, while also enhancing its ability to serve the needs of Japanese-owned firms. 
   “The nations of Africa south of the Sahara Desert (the “sub-Saharan region”), with their rich underground resources and rising populations, are forecast to see enormous economic growth, and there are also expectations for expansion of the insurance market in the region,” said the insurer in its press statement.
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