Morocco’s Saham Group Buys Angola’s Largest Private Insurer

Groupe Saham, a Morocco-based investment company, bought GA Angola Seguros SA, Angola’s largest closely held insurance company by revenue, for an undisclosed amount, GA Chief Executive Officer Fernando Dolbeth Assuncao said.

Saham, founded in 1995 by Moulay Hafid Elalamy, operates 35 insurance companies in 19 countries across Africa and the Middle East, including Benin, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Mali, Gabon, Senegal and Togo. The deal “will significantly contribute to the development of the Angolan insurance market,” Assuncao said in a statement issued today.

The Angolan insurance market is valued at about $1 billion a year in gross written premiums, with policies dominated by the oil industry, according to a May report by Trevor Barsdorf, an analyst at Johannesburg-based Global Credit Rating Co. The country is Africa’s largest crude producer after Nigeria.

GA’s revenue was $161 million or about 16 percent of Angola’s market last year, Chief Underwriter Shawn Kriedemann said in an e-mailed response to questions today.

The company has an A rating among the country’s 13 insurance companies, Barsdorf said in the report. Saham’s acquisition, similar to others it’s done in Africa, shows how larger insurance companies are seeking regional partners in countries with attractive growth opportunities, he said in e-mailed response to questions.

“The corporate activity highlights a confidence expressed by external stakeholders regarding the Angolan insurance market,” Barsdorf said. The deal “ultimately bodes well for the underlying insurer as it could provide additional balance sheet capacity.”

Client List

GA’s client list includes General Electric Co., Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. energy company, Brazil’s Odebrecht SA and diamond producer De Beers, according to a company presentation. With six branches staffed by 150 employees, it obtained its Angola operating license in 2005, the first private insurance company to enter the market in 30 years, the company said.

Angola’s largest insurer is the state-owned AAA, which has benefited from strong business with state-owned oil company Sonangol EP and has about 40 percent of the market, according to Barsdorf.

Empresa Nacional de Seguros e Resseguros de Angola, a state-owned company also known as Ensa, controls about 37 percent by focusing on government projects and aviation, he said.

One Alliance Insurance Services owned 70 percent of GA, according to the company. The remaining 30 percent was held by an undisclosed Angolan partner.

Chairman Ivor Michael Alan Lewis began One Alliance in 1996 to operate in Ghana and Mozambique before those operations were sold to Activa Group and Barclays/Absa Insurance, respectively. The company has staff in Angola and is preparing to start operations in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

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