United Bank of Africa’s (UBA) Chairman Tony Elumelu spent the past 16 years crafting together one of the biggest banks in Nigeria and a diversified African Banking empire.
Today, his investments in Africa’s largest economy range from banking to energy and power, hospitality, financial inclusion and jobs creation, located geographically in all regions of the country and helping to foster a more united Nigeria.
Heirs Holdings foray into insurance market a game changer
A new shark has entered into the deep blue sea, and the small fish have better beware otherwise they get swallowed.
Billionaire Tony Elumelu’s conglomerate Heirs Holding is about to disrupt the insurance landscape as it launched Heiress Insurance Limited (HIL) and Heirs Life Assurance (HLA).
Heirs Holdings will bring a dynamic, digitally driven offering to the general and life insurance sectors, providing clients with a real choice of products, pricing, channel, and claims handling.
“Nigerians want an insurer that will offer them services that are based on excellence, digitally driven, and affordable products; that is what Heirs General and Life Assurance will offer customers,” said Tony Elumelu, Chairman United Bank for Africa and Heirs Holdings.
These new insurance companies will leverage the latest technology to optimize cost and ensure that products will be accessible and easy to use while at the same time create jobs and magnify the sector’s contribution to the economy.
The unassuming and indefatigable businessman is not an onlooker who watches gladiators participate in the arena. He participates and wins because he has success in his DNA.
If the philanthropist, entrepreneur, oil magnum, banker, and visionary, transformed United Bank for Africa (UBA) from a small and mid-sized firm doing minute ticket transactions to a pan African lender with branches across the continent and Europe, then it is glaringly conspicuous that Tony Elumelu will use his magic fingers to galvanize the insurance industry to growth while contemporaneously creating jobs and healthy competition.
“We have the largest economy in Africa, yet insurance to GDP is abysmally low. Stakeholders have to come together and ensure that the sector contributes more… In Europe, the United States, and Asia, insurers own banks,” said Elumelu.
Nigeria’s insurance penetration rate currently stands at 0.5 percent, and that compares with South Africa (12.9 percent), Kenya (2.8 percent), Angola (0.8 percent) and Egypt (0.6 percent) while density at $6.2 also remains weak compared to South Africa ($762.5), Kenya ($40.5), Angola ($30.5) and Egypt ($22.8).
The industry is beset by a plethora of challenges such as little awareness & understanding of insurance products, lack of trust especially with regards to claim settlement, socio-cultural & religious beliefs of Nigerians, weak enforcement of compulsory insurance policies and the slow pace of innovation amongst industry participants.
Investors have never been interested in insurance stocks, and their apathy towards shares is responsible for weak valuations, this is unsurprising given abysmal dividends and lack of clear-cut strategic plans.
The industry’s price-to-book ratio of 0.43x compares with South Africa (1.99x), Egypt (1.65x) and Kenya (0.64x).
Interestingly, Heirs Holdings foray into the industry is conceptually well timed as the National Insurance Commission, the body that regulates insurance business in Nigeria, had mandated companies to recapitalize or shore up their capital.
“We are delivering insurance that is easy to understand, quick and reliable, simplifying our customers’ lives. Our mission is simple: make insurance accessible. Our goal is to transform customer service: cutting waiting time in claims processing and purchase to bare minutes — across all touchpoints, including mobile devices. At Heirs Insurance, we want to give our customers what they have so often lacked – high quality insurance, at an affordable price – and with an insurer that is on their side,” said Adaobi Nwakuche, Ag. MD/CEO, Heirs Insurance.
Philanthropy and Africapitalism
Tony Elumelu was named by TIME as one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists, in the 2020 TIME 100 annual list.
The TIME 100 list, now in its seventeenth year, recognises the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. Elumelu, who is one of only four Africans on the 2020 list, is recognised for his track record of business turnaround and value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans.
A highly selfless man, who has been honoured across the world for his sincere empathy, humanity and deep passion to empower others especially the youth in their entrepreneurial sojourn to achieving their dreams, Elumelu is the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
His philanthropy is imbued with his personal values, and the deep commitment to social justice which could also be seen in the different social and business aspects of his life.
He acknowledged the powerful influence of family example in his own development as a philanthropist, and that ‘he was brought up by his mother to believe that as members of society, we have responsibilities to each other a core value that was drummed into him in his youth, before he attained his present height of success and one which has continued to guide him in his support of humanity.
Evidence of those humanitarian and business instincts coming together can be seen in his passion for Africa’s rapid economic prosperity as he continues to walk the talk.
His firm believe in this vision informed the Tony Elumelu Foundation, that has harnessed Africa’s youth bulge to catalyze development and protect the future, committing to investing $5,000 each in 1,000 young entrepreneurs per year across 54 countries in Africa, and has informed his Africapitalism vision.
A term coined by the Nigerian banker and economist – it is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate both economic prosperity and social wealth which is what he hopes to achieve and is already doing.
With Elumelu’s approach by empowering young entrepreneurs across Africa with seed money every year, the expected outcomes include job creation and economic prosperity.
Nigeria and Africa, without any iota of doubts, need more Tony Elumelu’s who can and have the capacity to change the narrative and boldly do so, because indeed our continent is overwhelmed by a plethora of problems including, poverty, insecurity, crime, Infrastructure deficit, and lack of visionary leadership for this reason, most economies in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to move at a snail pace.
Elumelu has led by making investments in critical sectors like agriculture, education, healthcare etc., to enacting quotas to increase women’s representation on company boards which is what his chain of companies have been doing and continue to do ahead of its contemporaries across all sectors.
The success of the companies within the Elumelu dynasty is clearly a manifestation of the vision from the top.
Heirs completes largest oil and gas financing deal in a decade
Heirs Holdings Limited’s (HH) portfolio company, HHOG, completed the acquisition of OML17 in January 2021, in one of the largest oil and gas financings in Africa in more than a decade, with a financing component of US$1.1 billion.
The transaction represents a further implementation of the HH Group strategy of creating the leading integrated energy business in Africa.
Through a series of strategic portfolio holdings, HH is executing this strategy.
Most recently, affiliate company Transcorp made a US$300 million acquisition of Afam Power, increasing the Group’s installed electricity generating capacity to 2,000MW.