Lagos, 06 August 2021 – GCR Ratings (“GCR”) has assigned an initial national scale financial strength rating of A-(NG) to Lasaco Assurance Plc, with a Stable Outlook.
|Rated Entity / Issue||Rating class||Rating scale||Rating||Outlook / Watch|
|Lasaco Assurance Plc||Financial strength||National||A-(NG)||Stable Outlook|
The rating accorded to Lasaco Assurance Plc (“Lasaco”, “the insurer”) reflects the insurer’s moderately strong financial position, which partly offsets its limited competitive position in the highly fragmented Nigeria insurance industry.
Lasaco’s competitive profile somewhat constrains the rating. Lasaco is a mid-tier composite player within the Nigerian Insurance industry, with a track record of over four decades. The insurer controls an estimated market share and relative market share of 2.2% and 1.2x respectively as at FY20 based on total gross written premiums (“GWP”) of the industry. The premium base is somewhat concentrated, with group life business dominating premium mix over the review period with 60% contribution. This is somewhat offset by a diversified portfolio in the short-term business, with four lines of business contributing over 10% to the gross premium base. Going forward, the insurer’s competitive position is expected to be maintained within the same range, supported by entrenched market relationships with intermediaries and policyholders.
Earnings are at an intermediate level, with net profit supported by market sensitive income. In this regard, profitability in FY20 is underpinned by investment income and the highly volatile foreign exchange (“FX”) gains. Characterised by the low yield environment in 2020, largely due to the pandemic, investment income declined notably by 24.2% year on year (“YoY”) in FY20. This, coupled with an increase in net claims during the year, resulted to a moderation in operating margin. Looking ahead, given the strategic plans put in place, we expect planned premium growth to improve portfolio quality and support the volatile investment income, which in turn should result in earnings stability.
Lasaco’s capital adequacy is a positive rating factor. Though a slight 2.2% YoY decline in capital was reported at FY20 due to revaluation losses, capitalisation metrics remained strong. Both the international solvency and GCR capital adequacy ratio (“CAR”) were maintained well above 100% and 2.5x respectively over the review period, evidencing good loss absorbing capacity. The insurer plans to increase its shareholders’ funds by about N10bn over the medium term to enable participation on big policies, support business growth, and better position the insurer. This could be supportive to the rating should it be successfully implemented, with evidence of good capital management structures.
Liquidity is assessed within a relatively low range, given the fact that investment properties constitute about 22.5% of the investment portfolio at FY20 (FY19: 26%). That said, cash and stressed assets coverage of net technical liabilities registered a moderation to 1.3x at FY20 (FY19: 1.7x) due to cash absorption by reinsurance receivables. Similarly, operational cash coverage moderated to 10 months (FY19: 13.5 months), pressured by a spike in net claims incurred. Liquidity metrics are expected to improve over the near term based on the planned capital injection.
The Stable Outlook reflects our expectation that Lasaco will defend its competitive position as it deepens its relationship with the Lagos State, being the major shareholder. GCR expects the planned capital raise to improve the liquidity position over the next 12-18 months, while investment properties generate healthy returns for the insurer. we expect planned premium growth to improve portfolio quality, and support the volatile investment income, which in turn should result in earnings stability.
Positive rating action may stem from sustained improvement in earnings supporting a strengthening in liquidity and/or capitalisation. Conversely, a negative rating action could be triggered should investment property continue to dominate the investment portfolio without generating returns, with liquidity metrics moderating further. In addition, a sustained weakening in capitalisation and loss of market share would be negatively considered.
|Primary analyst||Adeyinka Olowofela||Senior Analyst, Financial Institutions|
|Lagos, NG||Yinka@GCRratings.com||+234 1 904 9462|
|Committee chair||Matthew Pirnie||Group Head of Ratings|
|Johannesburg, ZA||MatthewP@GCRratings.com||+27 11 784 1771|
Related Criteria and Research
|Criteria for the GCR Ratings Framework, May 2019|
|Criteria for Rating Insurance Companies, May 2019|
|GCR Ratings Scale, Symbols & Definitions, May 2019|
|GCR Country Risk Scores, July 2021|
|GCR Insurance Sector Risk Scores, April 2021|
Lasaco Assurance Plc
|Rating class||Review||Rating scale||Rating class||Outlook||Date|
|Financial Strength||Initial/ last||National||A-(NG)||Stable||August 2021|
Risk Score Summary
|Rating Components & Factors||Risk scores|
|Country risk score||3.75|
|Sector risk score||3.25|
|Management and governance||0.00|
|Premium||The price of insurance protection for a specified risk for a specified period of time.|
|Provision||The amount set aside or deducted from operating income to cover expected or identified loan losses.|
|Rating Horizon||The rating outlook period|
|Rating Outlook||See GCR Rating Scales, Symbols and Definitions.|
|Recovery||The action or process of regaining possession or control of something lost. To recoup losses.|
|Reinsurance||The practice whereby one party, called the Reinsurer, in consideration of a premium paid to him agrees to indemnify another party, called the Reinsured, for part or all of the liability assumed by the latter party under a policy or policies of insurance, which it has issued. The reinsured may be referred to as the Original or Primary Insurer, or Direct Writing Company, or the Ceding Company.|
|Risk||The chance of future uncertainty (i.e. deviation from expected earnings or an expected outcome) that will have an impact on objectives.|
|Securities||Various instruments used in the capital market to raise funds.|
|Security||One of various instruments used in the capital market to raise funds.|
|Senior||A security that has a higher repayment priority than junior securities.|
|Spread||The interest rate that is paid in addition to the reference rate for debt securities.|
|Statutory||Required by or having to do with law or statute.|
|Valuation||An assessment of the property value, with the value being compared to similar properties in the area.|
Salient Points of Accorded Ratings
GCR affirms that a.) no part of the rating process was influenced by any other business activities of the credit rating agency; b.) the ratings are based solely on the merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument being rated; and c.) such ratings are an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument.
The credit rating has been disclosed to the rated entity. The rating above was solicited by, or on behalf of, the rated entity, and therefore, GCR has been compensated for the provision of the rating. The rated entity participated in the rating process via virtual management meetings, and other written correspondence. Furthermore, the quality of information received was considered adequate and has been independently verified where possible.
The information received from Lasaco Assurance Plc and other reliable third parties to accord the credit ratings included:
- Audited financial results as at 31 December 2020;
- Four years of comparative audited financial statements;
- Reinsurance cover notes 2021 and
- Other relevant documents.