Arab Insurance Group (ARIG), the insurance firm based in Bahrain and currently owned by Kuwait, the UAE and Libya, says its forthcoming offering of up to $200 million worth of new shares will give private investors control of a majority of its equity.

‘The company’s existing shareholders, the governments of Kuwait, the UAE and the Central Bank of Libya, have approved the sale and issue of shares to the private sector. New investors will then own 50.5 per cent of ARIG’s share capital,’ company chairman Abdul Wahab al-Tammar said in a statement. The remaining 49.5 per cent will be held equally by the three existing shareholders. The structure and duration of the public offering have yet to be decided on, the statement adds. National Bank of Kuwait and National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia are underwriting $200 million worth of shares.

ARIG, which was founded in 1981, is spreading its coverage across the Arab world through investments in Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, and is buying into an insurance company in Morocco. Late last year, it launched a health care subsidiary and says it plans to set up another in 1998 to offer life insurance, with new products to follow in areas like Islamic insurance. ARIG made net profits of $42.4 million on assets of $887 million last year. The company’s paid-up capital is currently $150 million, which would be raised to $400 million through the offering and the capitalisation of some reserves (MEED 21:3:97).