July 16, 2014 / 1:41 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Private equity to sell 50 pct stake in African insurer Continental Re

(Adds background, share price)

LAGOS, July 16 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners plans to sell its 50.6 percent stake in Continental Reinsurance, the African insurer said in a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Emerging Capital Partners is the majority shareholder in Continental Reinsurance, which has operations in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia.

The private equity firm first invested $25.8 million in the insurer in 2007 for a 30 percent stake, to help increase its underwriting capacity to $80 million from $15 million, Emerging Capital Partners said on its website.

Continental Reinsurance did not give a reason for the sale.

Shares in the insurer, which gained 62 percent last year, fell 4.27 percent on Wednesday to 1.12 naira, valuing the company at 12.14 billion naira ($75.1 mln).

Insurance companies in Africa’s largest economy are betting on growing premiums as Nigeria develops its infrastructure and a consumer class that would demand protection from risk.

Nigeria’s FBN Insurance launched a bid this month to buy out the 28.8 percent minority stake in Oasis Insurance that it does not already own in a deal valued at 1.03 billion naira.

Continental Reinsurance, Nigeria’s second-largest insurance firm, covers life and non-life business. ($1 = 161.70 naira) (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by David Goodman)

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