Pakistan’s Asia Insurance Co. Ltd to enter takaful market

Lahore-based Asia Insurance Company Ltd will seek shareholder approval next week to offer Islamic insurance (takaful) products, the latest insurer seeking to expand into the sector.

Asia Insurance joins a growing list of firms in offering sharia-compliant products including United Insurance Company and EFU insurance group , the largest private insurance group in the country.

In May, Pakistani regulators introduced new takaful rules that allowed conventional firms to enter the sector, aiming to increase insurance penetration which remains the third-lowest in Asia.

An alternative to conventional insurance, takaful follows religious guidelines including bans on interest and pure monetary speculation and a prohibition on investing in industries such as alcohol and gambling.

Asia Insurance will seek approval to allocate 50 million rupees ($492,853) in capital to its takaful operation, the minimum capitalisation requirement, the firm said in a bourse filing.

It will also seek to increase its authorised capital to 500 million rupees from 300 million currently.

Regulators expect as many as half of all conventional insurers in Pakistan to eventually offer takaful products. (1 US dollar = 101.4500 Pakistani rupee) (Reporting by Bernardo Vizcaino; Editing by Stephen Coates)