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Japanese insurer Sompo to gain controlling stake in Indian affiliate

Joint venture will step up coverage for car owners and farmers

India has suffered a string of droughts in recent years. The farm coverage will help insure against crop loss.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Sompo Japan Nipponkoa is raising its stake in a mid-tier Indian insurer to become the top shareholder, with plans to boost sales of agricultural and auto insurance for individuals.

The Sompo Holdings unit will invest an additional 2 billion rupees ($29.3 million) in Universal Sompo General Insurance, lifting its interest to 34.6% from the current 26%.

Universal Sompo General was established in 2007 by Indian state banks and private-sector partners, including Sompo Japan Nipponkoa. The public-private joint venture boasts a vast sales network of around 7,000 bank branches.

Sompo Japan Nipponkoa aims to use this channel and local agents to cultivate demand for insurance among individuals, such as car owners and farmers looking to protect their crops and farms. The Indian company does not sell life insurance.

The Indian market for nonlife insurance has grown an average of about 15% per year over a decade to roughly $20 billion in fiscal 2017.

Such Japanese insurers as Tokio Marine Holdings and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance have also set up shop in India.

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