Allianz invests $100 mln in micro-insurer BIMA

LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Allianz has invested $96.6 million in micro-insurer BIMA, which sells insurance by mobile phone in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Germany’s largest insurer said on Tuesday.

The deal values the company at $290 million including debt, Stewart Langdon, partner at exiting investor LeapFrog Investments, told Reuters.

Micro-insurance is insurance for low-income people, typically living in emerging markets.

Insurers in developed markets are trying to expand their presence in emerging markets, where insurance penetration is low. They have pulled back from some emerging markets, however, where they have found it difficult to make headway.

Allianz made the investment through digital investment unit Allianz X and is the only insurance shareholder in BIMA, it said in a statement.

“Allianz’s participation in BIMA provides an ability for us to deepen our emerging markets footprint and use the latest technologies to distribute insurance products to customers who need it most,” said Coenraad Vrolijk, Regional CEO of Allianz Africa.

BIMA, which started in Africa in 2010, offers products such as life and personal accident insurance through customers’ mobile phones. It operates in 14 countries and has 24 million customers.

It is also backed by Swedish investment firm Kinnevik .

The Allianz investment has enabled specialist impact investor LeapFrog Investments to make a profitable exit from the business, four years after it bought into the company, Langdon said.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Louise Heavens