The Economic Times: January 30, 2015
Japanese insurance giant Tokio Marine is the most multinational among the country's insurers, generating half its profits from international business. The company, which sees India as its biggest external opportunity, is set to hike stake in its life and non-life joint ventures to 49% and will invest "whatever is required" to meet its growth ambitions in India. In an interview with TOI, Tsuyoshi Nagano, president and CEO, Tokio Marine Holdings, said that his dream is to offer all insurance products — life, non-life and health — on a single platform even if regulations require separate companies. Excerpts:
The recently passed ordinance enables you to hike stake to 49%. What is your response?
We are very pleased to see the ordinance, although there needs to be more clarity on the procedure and the process. Once it becomes clear, we are willing to take advantage of this to increase our stake in both our joint ventures — Iffco Tokio and Edelweiss Tokio Marine. We will hold in-depth talks with our partners so that we can take advantage of future growth.
Will you revise your growth plans with a higher stake?
The past few years were a little unfortunate for us because the cap on foreign investment was 26% and also the economic situation was not quite favourable. But now there is a strong leadership and there is stable government. We are also seeing lot of tailwinds in the economy like oil prices and economic growth. Our ambition is to create a company that is respected and well-received among customers and also a company that can contribute to the development, to Indian people and society.
Which business do you think will grow faster — life or non-life?
For India, it is hard to say. If the question was which market has the highest potential, I would say India. We have been doing business in non-life for 15 years and four years in life. In non-life, we are No. 3 in the private market. Both domains have tremendous potential. India is going to enjoy a demographic bonus for the coming 20-30 years. Also, the political scene has stabilized under the Modi government. The Indian economy will catch up with the GDP size of Japan some 10 years down the road. This country is a key market for Tokio Marine.
Japanese companies are household names in electronics and automobiles, but not so in financial services. Is that because this is a service and not technology industry?
We have to localize our business model and services to customize it for each country. It takes time to understand each market to develop talent for this business, which is why the Japanese financial industry has not been as successful as the manufacturing industry.
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