$200m Dubai company was formed with input from Malaysia and Singapore

The Bahrain regulator has approved the first operating subsidiary of ACR Retakaful Holdings. ACR Retakaful MEA will be capitalised at $200m and will underwrite general (non-life) large risk business.

The holding company was formed in May as a joint venture between Dubai Islamic Investment Group (part of government-backed Dubai Holding), Malaysian National Investment Company, Khazanah Nasional BHD and Singapore-based reinsurance firm ACR Capital Holdings PTE Ltd.

“The Central Bank of Bahrain is delighted to welcome ACR Retakaful MEA to the kingdom’s growing community of takaful and retakaful operators,” said Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Bassam, director of licensing and policy at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).

He added that Bahrain is among a few jurisdictions in the world to offer a comprehensive regulatory environment specific to Islamic insurance and reinsurance companies. The regulatory framework, introduced in 2005, has been a key factor in attracting a number of international insurance firms to establish takaful and retakaful ventures in Bahrain in the past two years.

“The Middle East insurance market, as a whole, is attracting renewed international interest with many prominent market players choosing to locate in Bahrain,” added Al Bassam.

Jonathan Wilton, CEO of ACR Retakaful MEA, said: “We are delighted to have obtained a licence to start our retakaful business in Bahrain. With it, we can now respond to the needs and the market potential in Islamic countries across our region.

“With ACR’s vast management expertise and technical underwriting expertise, we are confident that we can contribute positively to the retakaful sector which we believe has good growth prospects.”

The new firm will target the Middle East region, which offers promising prospects for takaful. According to a report by Moody’s, takaful premiums for life and non-life insurance are expected to grow from US$2bn to $10bn by 2020.

ACR Retakaful MEA is the second Bahrain venture of Singapore-based ACR Capital Holdings, which spearheaded the establishment of ACR Retakaful Holdings.

The CBB approved the establishment of a representative office of Asia Capital Reinsurance Group, a subsidiary of ACR Capital Holdings, which is a reinsurance company exclusively focused on Asian risk. Established in 2006, it writes both treaty business as well as facultative business and capitalised at $565m. The company carries a financial strength rating of A- (excellent) from AM Best.

Shareholders of ACR Capital Holdings include Morgan Stanley private equity Asia, Credit Suisse Private Equity Asia, Luxembourg Sicav (Worldwide Sicav), 3I, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, and affiliated investment funds of Och Ziff Capital Management Group.