x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai brokerage joins ‘big league’ after JLT buys stake

One of the world’s largest insurers has bought a “significant stake” in a Dubai-based brokerage.

Kenneth Maw, Insure Direct’s president and chief executive, says the deal should make the brokerage more successful when bidding for large risks. Pawan Singh / The National
Kenneth Maw, Insure Direct’s president and chief executive, says the deal should make the brokerage more successful when bidding for large risks. Pawan Singh / The National

One of the world’s largest insurers has bought a “significant stake” in a Dubai-based brokerage.

Insure Direct declined to reveal the size of the investment made by Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) but said the stake was significant enough to rebrand the Dubai company eventually.

Insure Direct, which was acquired by Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, in 2006, acts as broker for most of Dubai World’s core businesses in the region.

Kenneth Maw, Insure Direct’s president and chief executive, said the company had thousands of clients from the “very small to the very large”. According to its website, the company handles premiums in excess of US$50 million a year.

The deal with JLT includes an agreement to enter a “long term strategic partnership with Istithmar World … This will drive the expansion of our Middle East operations,” according to an interim management statement by JLT.

“[The stake] shows our commitment to a region in which insurance penetration and awareness is growing and where capital is increasingly being attracted,” said Peregrine Towneley, JLT Specialty’s divisional managing director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The UAE also provides a strategic gateway for investment into North and East Africa and positions JLT Mena well for future growth in the region.”

Insure Direct in turn aims to build the strength of its offices in the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.

Mr Maw said the deal should make Insure Direct more successful when bidding for large risks, as multinational brokers tended to provide an “easy way out” for risk managers.

“It is easier to say it is probably safer to deal with one of the big firms, rather than going to what might be perceived as being a smaller firm,” he said.

“So this partnership really puts us into the big league on a level playing field with major multinational brokers and I am expecting that we should be able to bid and successfully get a reasonable market share of the large risks.”

In particular, the company wants to target industrial risks.

“I’m particularly keen on trying to work on business that is global because obviously with the JLT network behind us we can accommodate Middle Eastern interests that has investments in all parts of the world,” said Mr Maw, who set up the company in 2000, having previously headed HSBC’s insurance broking business.

gduncan@thenational.ae