Liberty Mutual Enters Russian Market

NU Online News Service, March 29, 10:37 a.m. EDT

Boston-based insurer Liberty Mutual Insurance Group says it has acquired the Russian insurance company KIT Finance Insurance from KIT Finance Holding Co.

Liberty says the acquisition now enables it to enter Russia’s $21 billion property and casualty insurance market.

Headquartered in St. Petersburg, KIT began operations in mid-2008 as a direct distribution insurer providing primarily automobile and property insurance in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Since then, KIT has become a multi-line, multi-distribution channel company with its own sales force as well as multiple bank and affinity partnerships.

The company wrote nearly $50 million in gross written premium in 2011, says Liberty, with approximately 63 percent coming from automobile insurance. The company recently expanded operations into the Russian cities of Novosibirsk, Perm, Orel and Krasnoyarsk.

The ultimate owners of KIT are JSC Russian Railways and NPF Blagosostoyanie, the pension fund company of Russian Railways.

While the parties have not disclosed the financial terms of the agreement, KIT Finance Holding Co. says the proceeds will be used to repay a loan of Russian Railways to KIT Finance Investment Bank.

“We believe KIT Finance Insurance provides an attractive platform from which to invest in the rapidly growing Russian non-life insurance market,” says David H. Long, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group president and chief executive officer. “It’s a dynamic company with a driven management team as indicated by annual growth of twenty-seven percent.”

Liberty notes that for all of 2011 it reported net written premium of more than $31 billion, of which $8.2 billion, or 26 percent, came from its international operations.

KIT joins Liberty Mutual's international local business operations that sell to individuals and businesses in three geographic regions: Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Poland, Ireland and now Russia; Latin America, including Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Chile; and, Asia, including Thailand, Singapore, China (including Hong Kong) and Vietnam.

The company says private passenger automobile insurance is the single largest line of business for Liberty Mutual’s international country operations. 

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