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Freshfields advises Zurich Insurance Group on US$488m acquisition of controlling stake in India’s Kotak General Insurance

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (‘Freshfields’) is advising leading global insurance provider Zurich Insurance Group (‘Zurich’) on its acquisition of a majority stake in Indian insurer Kotak Mahindra General Insurance Company Limited (‘Kotak General Insurance’) from parent company Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited (‘Kotak Mahindra Bank’) for US$488m. The deal signed yesterday (2 November 2023).

The highly strategic investment, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals in India and Switzerland, would see Zurich become one of the first foreign insurers to enter the Indian insurance market through majority ownership of a joint venture. It is also likely to represent the largest foreign insurer investment in India’s insurance sector since regulatory changes allowing majority foreign ownership came into effect in 2021.

India is one of the world’s most attractive insurance markets. The country’s vast economic and population growth, coupled with the current low levels of insurance penetration, present significant upside prospects for insurance providers.

Established in 2015 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kotak Mahindra Bank, Kotak General Insurance is one of India’s youngest and fastest-growing general insurance franchises. It offers a range of non-life insurance products, including Motor, Health, Home and Commercial to a broad spectrum of customer segments and geographies. Strongly aligned with Zurich’s strategy, the proposed joint venture would deliver a differentiated value proposition to customers by building a best-in-class, digitally-enabled insurer.

The Freshfields team advising on the transaction is led by partner and global co-head of M&A Robert Ashworth and partners Jon Bowden and Arun Balasubramanian. They are supported by Global Transactions associate Dickson Chan, counsel David Schwintowski, senior associate Alice Boughton and associate Samuel Pullin. IP advice was provided by partner Richard Bird and associate Harshavardhan Ganesan. Antitrust advice was provided by counsel Laurent Bougard and associate Charles Tay.