In a circular communicated to insurance providers in Nigeria, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has announced an extension to the deadline for insurance providers to meet up with the regulator’s new minimum capital requirement. In addition, NAICOM has broken the recapitalisation exercise into two phases. The first phase must be complied with by 31 December 2020.
To comply, insurance providers must meet 50% of the new minimum capital requirements while reinsurance providers are required to meet up to 60% of the new minimum capital requirement. The second phase which will end on the final deadline of 30 September 2021 would require 100% compliance with the minimum capital requirement from all insurance and reinsurance providers.
The revised guidelines requires Life insurance providers to have minimum capital of N4bn (existing minimum – N2bn) by 31 December 2020 and paid up capital of N8bn by 30 September 2021. General insurers are required to meet a minimum paid-up capital of N5bn (existing minimum – N3bn) and N10bn by 31 December 2020 and 30 September 2021 respectively. Composite insurers are expected to have a minimum of N9bn in paid up capital (existing minimum – N5bn) by 31 December 2020 and N18bn by 30 September 2021 while reinsurers should have N12bn (existing minimum – N10bn) in minimum paid up capital by 31 December 2020 and N20bn by 30 September 2021.
In our view, we think the decision to extend the deadline is reasonable under current circumstances. The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged global economic and financial systems thus making it more difficult for an already unattractive insurance sector to raise much-needed capital. We note that several players have initiated the process of raising the needed funds from their existing shareholder base via the right issues. However, we highlight that some of the players currently have a negative book value of equity and are trading below their par values. Hence, raising equity capital does not appear feasible. That said, we expect to see a flurry of mergers and acquisitions in the industry once conditions become more favorable.
CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.