The Telegraph
Thursday , June 12 , 2014
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Exide Life to focus on east

Vegter: Expansion mode

Calcutta, June 11: Exide Life Insurance, the erstwhile ING Vysya Life Insurance Company, is looking to leverage on Exide’s brand name to expand its business in the eastern region.

The company is planning to open nine offices in the east and hire around 18,000 agents. At present, it has around 35,000 agents and 200 offices across the country.

“We are already a large player in the south because historically we have invested most of our distribution in the south — Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu. We have always been cautious to expand outside south because often the ING brand name was not very well known. We believe with Exide being such a powerful name in the east, setting up offices and growing business in the region would be much easier,” said Uco Vegter, chief financial officer of Exide Life Insurance.

Exide had acquired the life insurance business from the Netherlands-based ING last year after the latter decided to sell it off as part of its global restructuring plan.

“As a part of the deal, the company was allowed to use the ING brand name for another 12-18 months. So, we took some time to really think about how to continue the business and since May 5, we have now branded to Exide Life Insurance,” Vegter said.

He added that since the insurance policies were already compliant with the revised guidelines of the IRDA, the rebranding did not have any impact on the policies.

Even though ING had entered India in 2001, it was struggling to expand its business in a market dominated by public sector insurer LIC.

Last year, the insurance company earned a net profit of Rs 53 crore in 2013-14, while its total premium collection stood at Rs 1,830 crore.

Vegter said the company was not in immediate need of cash to fund expansion, but was open to capital infusion if business grew at a rapid pace.

“Exide Industries remains a long-term strategic investor in the business. But we also recognise that if we are going to grow rapidly, we may need more capital and for that we may consider the option of bringing in a foreign investor,” he said.

“Today we are making profit. So there is no immediate need for additional capital to fund any losses. Our solvency margin is also strong at around 240 per cent,” he added.