QIC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 knowing that it is the largest insurance company in terms of profitability and market capitalization in the MENA region. What are the core values that have made QIC into such a successful company?
At QIC Group, we value each employee and acknowledge their own distinctive contribution. We value their effort, enterprise, contribution, and opinions. Our Group is built on teamwork, respect, and mutual trust. Each person, at whatever level she or he may operate at, is empowered and will therefore make his or her own unique contribution. Employees are encouraged to be responsible for their own actions. We encourage positive contributions, acknowledge innovation, and reward excellence. At the same time, we are open to constructive feedback and candid comments, and are flexible in absorbing these into our business model. These are the core values that have contributed to QIC's success.
With the extension of shares in February 2014, QIC increased its total capital by 30% to $439 million. What does this increased financial base practically imply for QIC?
In February 2014, QIC's paid-up capital increased to $439 million with the issuance of bonus shares at 25%. QIC has always ensured that capital adequacy remains extremely strong to fully support targeted growth. The current shareholders equity for QIC Group, which is in excess of QAR1.6 billion, clearly demonstrates the extremely strong capital adequacy, which we expect to maintain in the short term, in line with our business forecasts for the coming years.
Recently QIC acquired Antares Holding. How does this acquisition feature in the company's plans for international expansion?
Companies must innovate and grow in order to avoid stagnation. With globalization, it was evident that there were both opportunities to be grasped and challenges to be met. Whilst retaining our leadership role in our home market, we chose to be ambitious and entered the global insurance and reinsurance arena. Our first venture beyond the borders of Qatar dates back to 1968, when we set up our first branch office in Dubai, UAE. QIC's internationalization strategy is aligned to our Group's mission, which is to be ranked amongst the top 50 global insurers by 2030. Gathering momentum, we are spreading beyond the Middle East, and have now positioned ourselves to be known and recognized in the global insurance and reinsurance arena. Qatar Insurance Group was highly successful in acquiring UK-based Lloyds Syndicate Antares Holdings Limited in a deal that was worth more than $275 million. With this acquisition, the Group has gained a foothold in the Lloyd's market and access to markets outside the MENA region. Furthermore, Antares also offers the Group a Bermudian Platform with a Class 3 reinsurance license. Antares, together with the Group's reinsurance arm Qatar Reinsurance Company (Qatar Re), constitute the key pillars of QIC's international operations, generating approximately 60% of overall insurance revenue.
Qatar, like most of the countries in the region, sees a relatively low rate of insurance penetration. In which segment of insurance services do you see the most potential for short-term growth?
My outlook is bullish for retail, given that the penetration ratio of insurance spending to GDP is particularly low when compared with global benchmarks. However, the ongoing development in infrastructure and energy will continue to attract more capital from both local as well as international sources. Going forward, I envisage that with the right mix of retail products, the market will gain more prominence in the region.