Abraaj Buys $125 Million Stake in West African Insurance Firm

Abraaj Capital Ltd., the Middle East’s biggest private equity company, bought a $125 million stake in a Moroccan investor in insurance companies to help it expand across the African market.

The investment in Saham Finances will enable it to make acquisitions in the “high growth markets” of Africa and the Middle East, where insurance penetration remain “extremely low,” Dubai-based Abraaj said in an e-mailed statement today.

Saham’s three subsidiaries, CNIA Saada, Colina and Isaaf, offer life and non-life products in Morocco and more than 10 other countries in French-speaking West Africa, Abraaj said. CNIA Saada, listed on the Casabalanca Stock Exchange, is the second-largest non-life insurance provider in Morocco with 16 percent market share, Abraaj said. Colina is ranked second in the life and non-life segments across 11 countries in Africa with an 11 percent market share, the firm said.

“Our investment in Saham Finances is in line with our focus on supporting strong companies active in high-impact sectors in rapidly growing economies,” Matteo Stefanel, senior partner at Abraaj Capital, said in the statement. “As a leader in insurance in Morocco and francophone West Africa, we see tremendous opportunities for Saham Finances.”

Abraaj oversees $7.5 billion across more than 30 emerging market countries. The private equity firm agreed last month to buy London-based Aureos Capital Ltd., which specializes in investing in small- and medium-sized firms.

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