Saudi Arabia may be the first country in the world to witness a merger between three insurance companies following regulatory reforms, according to Sulaiman Binmayouf, CEO at United Co. for Actuarial Services CAIS.
Many of Saudi Arabia’s 29 insurance companies need capital infusions or mergers to meet the requirements of regulators, after they ordered to triple capital to SR300 million from SR100 million, Binmayouf said.
The Kingdom’s insurance companies are only profitable with high premiums, some of which they have to freeze as reserves, meaning they can’t invest the money, he said.
However, he expects the adoption of IFRS 17 standards by the insurance sector in the Kingdom will help solve the problem.
IFRS 17 is an International Financial Reporting Standard that was issued by the International Accounting Standards Board in May 2017.
The financial statements of insurance companies on the Capital Market Authority (CMA) website are not sufficient for taking an investment decision, said Binmayouf.
The standard will provide a more accurate supervision and disclosure process in the development of financial statements, giving investors a clearer idea of whether they want to invest in the company or not, he said.
“Investors should look at the status of insurance companies in terms of the board of directors and committees, and review the strategic plan and financial statements to make the investment decision,” he said.
That will lead to more capital flowing into the insurance sector, while supporting its stability, he said. IFRS 17 will be implemented in stages, as decided by the central bank.