* Eyes Muslim-owned SMEs with less than 1 mln stg turnover
* Mulls life insurance partnership, Europe expansion
LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - Salaam Halal, the UK’s only stand-alone Islamic insurer, will expand next year to offer insurance -- or takaful -- to companies run by Muslim businesses, the company’s CEO said on Friday.
Bradley Brandon-Cross told Reuters the company, which launched in 2008, wants to launch the first takaful product range for Muslim-owned small and medium-sized business in Britain, which he estimated number around 140,000.
Major European insurers have been considering a move into the European takaful market, seeking to tap demand from the millions of Muslims on the continent [ID:nLE729394], but the market is still in its infancy and growth is hard to predict.
Salaam Halal -- which has so far focused on car and home insurance -- will particularly target businessmen with less than 1 million pounds ($1.65 million) annual turnover, typically lawyers, accountants, doctors and retailers.
“It was always our intention to look at these markets. We will be very much focusing on this project in 2010,” Brandon-Cross said.
Takaful works like mutual-insurance but there is a clear segregation of the assets owned by members and those owned by the insurer. Members contribute to a common pool to fund claims and members benefit if the pool is left in surplus.
Investments made using the pool of funds adhere to sharia law and shun sectors such as alcohol and gambling.
Ernst & Young has estimated the global takaful contributions will reach $7.7 billion in 2012, double the volume in 2007, at the conservative end of estimates.
Salaam Halal is considering offering life savings products in partnership with other insurers in the UK and outside the UK, which Brandon-Cross declined to name. The company may also move into European countries with large Muslim populations, such as France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Salaam Halal is the trading name of Principle Insurance Company Ltd, whose shareholders are investors are institutional and private, predominantly from The Middle East and Malaysia. ($1=.6049 Pound) (For the Hedge Hub blog, visit: blogs.reuters.com/hedgehub/ For the Global Investing blog, visit: here) (Reporting by Cecilia Valente, Editing by )
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