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Business Forum

Indian Finance Minister praises GIC Re "spreading its wings" in London

Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram today welcomed a “giant step” in the international expansion of the General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re) as he officially opened a new London branch office for the Mumbai-based reinsurer.

Addressing an audience of more than 200 dignitaries and invited guests, the minister highlighted the growing influence of the reinsurer across the globe and forecast that its international expansion would continue in tandem with growing reforms within India’s insurance and financial markets.

He said: “GIC wishes to spread its wings throughout the world and emerge as an effective reinsurance solution partner.”

Mr Chidambaram was guest of honour as GIC Re officially launched its London office at a lavish ceremony attended by key business and political figures. The company is looking to further strengthen its position. It is already one of the world’s 25 largest reinsurance companies – businesses that allow insurers to reduce their exposure to potential claims by sharing their policy risks with second-tier insurers.

Following approval from UK and Indian regulators, GIC Re has been able to upgrade an existing representative office to write business directly in the UK for the first time. Its new branch office is to focus initially on offering reinsurance cover for insurers involved in underwriting property, aviation and energy-related risks.

Among those attending the event were Indian High Commissioner Kamalesh Sharma and Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, together with GIC Re’s Chairman Mr Yogesh Lohiya and General Manager Mr R. Chandrasekaran, both of whom travelled from Mumbai for the ceremony.

Mr P. Chidambarm, finance minister of India with Mr Yogesh Lohiya, Chairman GIC Re. and other colleagues

Finance Minister Mr Chidambaram highlighted recent growth at GIC Re, including large rises in its net premiums, after-tax profits and investments. He said: “Today we bring you a company with strong financial fundamentals, an outstanding record of achievement in India, a willingness to adhere to international standards, a willingness to conform to standards set by international regulators and a willingness to compete with the rest of the world.”

Highlighting the importance of the London market, the minister added: “This is a great country, a great city, the world’s most renowned financial centre and I am happy to be here this morning to inaugurate GIC Re’s fully fledged office in London.”

Describing the London branch office as a “giant step”, he added: “It is our goal to make GIC Re a world-class reinsurer. It already offers reinsurance support to 1,000 insurance companies.”

GIC Re’s London-based underwriting team will be supported by colleagues in Mumbai, with plans for the state-owned company’s UK presence to expand as business develops. The new London branch office is headed by Mr Anil Sant, who has been appointed Chief Manager.

Officially welcoming guests to the ceremony, Mr Lohiya said: “London has always been a true global leader for international business and reinsurance business, and it gives GIC great pride to see our operation here go from a representative office to a branch office.”

Finance Minister Mr Chidambaram is in charge of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Recent reports have suggested that India’s influence on the world stage will continue to develop. One study last year by investment bank Goldman Sachs suggested that within a decade the country could overtake Britain and have the world’s fifth-largest economy. By the middle of this century, India could potentially overtake the US and be second only to China, it added.

About General Insurance Corporation of India:

Mumbai-based General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re) is a leading player in the international reinsurance sector – a market that allows insurance firms to reduce their exposure to potential claims by sharing their policy risks with second-tier insurers. As a reinsurer, GIC Re provides cover to 1,000 insurance companies operating around the world. It is among the world’s 25 largest reinsurers.

The company was created in 1972 when India’s insurance sector was nationalised. The state-owned venture is now established as a market-leading reinsurer in Asia and Africa, with its Mumbai headquarters supported by offices across India, as well as by operations in London, Dubai and Moscow.

GIC Re is active in a wide range of insurance classes including property, marine, engineering, energy, aviation and motor. In 2006-07 the company wrote net premiums totalling 64.2 billion Rupees (£833 million), up nearly 52% on the previous year. Its after-tax profit rose 156% to 15.3 billion Rupees (£198 million) over the same period.

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