T’azur snapshot

Date established 2007

Main business area Islamic insurance

Main business regions Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar

Chief executive officer Nikolaus Frei

T’azur in numbers

$500m: T’azur’s authorised capital

2.5 per cent: T’azur’s share of motor insurance market in Bahrain

25.86 per cent: Unicorn Investment Bank’s stake in T’azur

80: Employees at T’azur’s Bahrain office

Source: T’azur

T’azur structure

Bahrain-headquartered T’azur is a takaful (Islamic insurance) provider.

The joint-stock company was set up in November 2007 by the local Unicorn Investment Bank with an authorised capital of $500m, of which $58m is issued and paid up. The decision to establish a takaful company formed part of its strategy to create a diversified Islamic financial services group.

T’azur counts leading institutions from across the GCC among its other founding shareholders: Emaar al-Bayader (Saudi Arabia), Al-Imtiaz Investment (Kuwait), Al-Aman Investment Company (Kuwait), The Securities House (Kuwait), The First Investor (Qatar) and General Retirement & Social Insurance Authority (Qatar). Unicorn Investment Bank holds a 25.86 per cent stake in the company.

T’azur shareholders
Shareholder Country
Unicorn Investment Bank  Bahrain
Emaar Al Bayader  Saudi Arabia
Al Imtiaz Investment  Kuwait
Al Aman Investment Company  Kuwait
The Securities House  Kuwait
The First Investor  Kuwait
General Retirement & Social Insurance Authority  Qatar
Source: T’azur

T’azur is overseen by a sharia supervisory board. In addition to its head office in Bahrain, where it employs 80 people, the company has a presence in Kuwait, with 30 staff, and recently opened an office in Qatar Financial Centre, where it operates through a small team of four. 

T’azur operations

Although T’azur was established in 2007, it was not until mid-2009 that its family and general takaful products were launched in Bahrain. The insurer has created a range of products catering to all aspects of personal and business life. The family takaful products include advanced savings plans combined with life insurance. The general takaful products address the insurance needs of individuals, such as motor and home insurance, as well as the needs of the business community with sharia-compliant corporate products.

In little more than a year of selling its products, T’azur has built up a close to 10 per cent share of the medical insurance market in the region and has made strong inroads into the property and life insurance sectors, assisted by its 25-strong army of insurance salesmen. The company has a 2.5 per cent share of Bahrain’s motor insurance market, with 10,000 customers insured as of 28 September 2010.

T’azur ambitions

T’azur aims to become a region-wide market leader in both family and general takaful. The company intends to develop its insurance offering and customer base through organic growth, strategic acquisitions and strong local distribution partnerships across the GCC and the wider Middle East and North Africa region.

Unicorn Investment Bank net profit
  ($m)
2005 23.6
2006 30.1
2007 49.6
2008 35
2009 2.2
Source: Unicorn Investment Bank

T’azur is particularly keen to establish a presence in Saudi Arabia, which is the region’s largest insurance market. The insurer has gained a foothold in three GCC counties in the course of three years, but the firm says a presence in the kingdom would open up the most substantial untapped market for takaful in the Middle East.

In terms of business lines, T’azur intends to develop the full range of takaful products, but it sees the strongest near-term growth in medical insurance, due to mandatory healthcare regulations that are being rolled out across the region.

Providing life insurance coverage is a long-term ambition for both conventional and sharia-compliant insurers present in the Middle East. The sector is severely underdeveloped in the region and offers huge potential for providers. But as the concept of insurance is still new to the GCC, it will likely be several years before demand for this type of product gains any real momentum.