Beirut, Lebanon, February 6, 2012—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, is investing up to $124 million in the
Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Company (Medgulf) to help
the firm extend its health and commercial risk insurance services across
the Middle East and North Africa, where low coverage rates hinder economic
IFC’s acquisition of up to a 15 percent equity stake in Medgulf, a leading
regional insurer, will support the company as it looks to expand into Egypt,
Iraq and Turkey, where many people lack insurance coverage.
“The partnership with IFC will help Medgulf grow its operational capabilities
to extend security to people who would otherwise have limited means of
coping with calamities,” said Lutfi El Zein, chairman of Medgulf. "While
the shortage of insurance coverage in the Middle East remains severe, Medgulf
has a strong strategic vision and the capacity to meet rising demand."
The Middle East has the lowest rates of insurance coverage in the world,
with gross premiums around 1 percent of regional GDP, which breeds uncertainty
within households, hindering investment and job creation. In the Middle
East and North Africa, the share of the population aged 65 years and older
is expected to more than triple by 2050, demanding an increase in health,
life, and pension insurance services.
“IFC’s investment in Medgulf supports our strategy to help extend essential
services to underserved parts of the population by encouraging cross-border
investments within the region,” said Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Vice President
for Eastern and Southern Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa.
"Addressing insurance needs in the region will make it easier for
people to access healthcare, while an increased sense of security will
help businesses grow."
This investment will also help institutionalize best practices in the insurance
sector, where Medgulf is a model of sound corporate governance and transparency.
It is part of IFC’s efforts in the Middle East and North Africa to promote
economic development by supporting private enterprise. In the last year,
IFC has invested over $2 billion in the region, including mobilization.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development
institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing
countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing
advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital
in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty
across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental
performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving
our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information,