Thursday, February 10, 2011
AIG, Mitsui expand in Malaysia
Malaysia is attracting global companies such as American International Group Inc and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co seeking to tap growth in the country’s US$4 billion Islamic insurance market.
Mitsui Sumitomo said on Jan. 28 it’s in talks to buy a stake in a local operator offering takaful, or Shariah-compliant insurance. New York-based American International formed a joint venture with Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd in January, four months after winning a licence from the central bank.
The entrance of more insurance firms will increase the pool of funds looking for longer-maturity debt in Malaysia as the government embarks on a 10-year, US$444 billion development program. Malaysia is giving tax incentives to foreign companies setting up takaful businesses and has eased ownership rules in domestic institutions to aid growth in the industry.
“Insurers are in the best market because of its depth and liquidity,” Mohd. Farid Kamarudin, who helps manage RM1.3 billion (US$428 million) of Islamic assets at Kuala Lumpur-based AmInvestment Management Sdn Bhd, a unit of the fourth-biggest underwriter of sukuk last year, said in a Feb. 7 interview. “This is the only market where you can buy sukuk with maturities of up to 20 years or 30 years.”
Takaful accounted for 10.9 per cent of Malaysia’s total insurance market as of September, central bank Deputy Governor Mohd Razif Abd Kadir said in Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 28. In contrast, Islamic banking makes up 20 percent of the total banking industry.
Takaful is based on the Shariah principle of mutual assistance, where two parties agree to pay into a fund that will be used to assist each other in times of need.
Assets held by operators of Shariah-compliant insurance in Malaysia reached RM12.4 billion at the end of 2009, with RM3.52 billion raised in premiums, central bank data show.
Courtesy by: Business Times