ICICI Prudential Life expects to break even in 2-3 years

ICICI Prudential Life expects to break even in 2-3 years

Mumbai: ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, India’s biggest private insurer, expects to break even in the next two to three years despite a slowdown in industry growth after stock prices tumbled, a senior official said on Thursday.

“We projected to break even in 10-12 years of operation. We are pretty much on track," Puneet Nanda, executive vice president of the life insurer, which began operations in 2001, told Reuters in an interview at its headquarters in Mumbai.

ICICI Prudential Life, 74% owned by ICICI Bank, India’s largest private-sector bank, and 26% owned by Britain’s biggest insurer, Prudential Plc, also said it did not need much additional capital to fuel its growth in the current financial year, which ends next March.

“The promoters put in Rs12 billion ($245 million) in the last financial year. This year we will need much less than that, as much of our expansion has been completed," Nanda said.

India’s private-sector insurers, all of which are less than 10 years old, are largely loss-making as they have invested in aggressive growth in recent years and also must set aside capital to meet solvency margins.

A rapid growth spurt across the industry came to a halt last year when the plunge in stock markets in India and globally crimped demand for the equity-based products that predominate in India’s private-sector life insurance industry.

ICICI Prudential currently has about 5,000 outlets to sell its products in India, a footprint that Nanda said does not require aggressive expansion.

It also does not see much of change in its product mix, with unit-linked products bringing in about 90% of revenues in the current year, he said.

Unit-linked insurance policies are sold as units like mutual funds, and the corpus is mainly invested in equity and debt markets. They are by far the dominant product sold by private-sector life insurers in India.