Business News of 2013-12-06

LeapFrog Investments to sell Express Life

LeapFrog Investments, the specialist investor in financial services in Africa and Asia, has agreed to sell to Prudential PLC its majority stake in leading Ghanaian insurer Express Life, for an undisclosed sum.

The transaction marks the entry of one of the world’s largest insurers into the fast-growing African insurance industry; and into an emerging consumer market pioneered by LeapFrog.

LeapFrog’s lead partner in Ghana, Doug Lacey, said, “Our experience with Express Life demonstrates the value of specialist fund managers who can source promising investment opportunities in emerging markets and work closely with these companies to create customer and shareholder value. And now we see that they become attractive to global players also committed to building sustainable and impactful businesses.”

When LeapFrog invested in Express Life, the company was reaching some 60,000 people. Today, the company reaches over 730,000 people, most of them first-time users of insurance and savings products.

Lacey said: “LeapFrog worked closely with Express management to introduce new talent, redesign the product range to enhance client value, and swiftly build the distribution force. We also connected the company with BIMA, a LeapFrog portfolio company that distributes insurance via mobile phones. As a result, Express now profitably distributes highly affordable products to a whole new group of first-time users. We are privileged to have worked with Express Life CEO Mokobi Aryee and his talented team, and are confident they will enjoy further success with Prudential.”

Express Life CEO, Mokobi Aryee, said “From the start, LeapFrog provided us with strategic support and operational know-how. As a hands-on investor, they helped us lay the platform for a promising future. Now, as part of Prudential we can achieve our common vision: to lead the insurance industry in Ghana, in service delivery and in meeting the needs of our current and future clients. ”

LeapFrog announced the US$ 204m first close of its most recent fund in September 2013. The group has been hailed by Sir Richard Branson for “making a huge difference and making a significant profit at the same time” and for its “innovative approach to democratising insurance”.

It also has investments in insurance underwriters and distributors in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and India. Says

Founder and president of LeapFrog, Dr Andrew Kuper said, “We believe that the emerging consumer represents a tremendous opportunity for financial services businesses, and insurance in particular. Given the size of the underserved market, visionary financial services companies that provide scalable solutions can be expected to provide top-tier investor returns.”