Friday January 10 2014

Kenyan insurance firms sell shares to meet ownership limit

RA chief executive Sammy Makove. MONITOR PHOTO

RA chief executive Sammy Makove. MONITOR PHOTO 

By Monitor Correspondent


The Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) of Kenya has said all the insurers in the country have complied with ownership rules that restrict the majority shareholder stake in the business to 25 per cent.
IRA chief executive Sammy Makove said Wednesday that it was unlikely that any insurance company would be denied a licence this year on the basis of the ownership rule.
The IRA had given insurers up to December 2012 to comply with a new law that limits individual ownership of firms to a maximum of 25 per cent.

“Virtually all of them (insurance companies) have satisfied this requirement,” said Mr Makove.
In June 2013, the insurance regulator dropped Kenya Alliance from its list of licensees for 2013 over failure to reduce majority shareholders’ stake in the business as per the requirement.
Insurers were given three years from 2009 to comply with the shareholder rule that caps individual ownership of directors and executives at a quarter of an insurer’s shares, but firms had the window to seek a two-year extension through the Treasury secretary after showing compliance plans.

In January last year, the IRA had given a three-month ultimatum to nine insurers to get clearance from Institute of Certified Public Secretaries of Kenya on their shareholding structure.
The institution had been hired by IRA to establish the shareholding structure of insurers most of whose ownership had remained a tightly guarded secret.

Insurance companies whose licences are not renewed at the beginning of the year are given up to June to comply with the regulator’s requirements before further actions are taken.
On upcoming regulations, he said that the Insurance Bill draft would be presented to the government by the end of the first quarter of this year, having cleared the stakeholder consultative phase.

The regulator is, however, still awaiting the resolution on the proposal to merge it with the Capital Markets Authority and the Retirements Benefits Authority, which would mean the drafting of a wider law to accommodate all three.
Mr Makove spoke during the launch of IRA’s new electronic regulatory system (ERS) that would be used by insurance firms in their reporting to the regulator.

The new electronic portal means that insurance firms will complete and submit all required returns online- with the regulator now expecting to cut the time it takes to produce industry reports from an average of six months to two.