Moroccan firm buys Mercantile Insurance Ltd

The Pandit family has sold its controlling stake in Mercantile Insurance to Morocco-based Saham Finances, marking the latest deal in the local insurance market.

Saham, which has operations in North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, is expected to inject new expertise that will drive Mercantile’s growth through competitively priced products.

Mercantile, which was founded by the late Lalit Pandit in 1993, offers life and non-life insurance products in the local market.

The company made a pre-tax profit of Sh96 million in 2011 on gross premiums of nearly Sh600 million.

“Our long term vision is to deepen the market in both life and general insurance for the benefit of all Kenyans,” said Raymond Farhat, Saham’s managing director.

Kenya’s economic size, and its low insurance uptake at three per cent, has sparked more deals in the insurance sector in recent years as investors position themselves to gain from the projected growth in the industry in the coming years.

Some of the deals in the industry in the past two years include exit of Pan Africa Insurance from APA Insurance and purchase of a 60 per cent stake in AAR by a Dutch fund.

Leapfrop, a PE firm, also acquired a 25 per cent stake in Apollo Investments while Africa Development Corporation acquired a 38.7 per cent stake in Resolution Health East Africa.