Since the 14th century marine insurance has expanded beyond the oceans and is the vital financial bedrock of the modern movement of property and goods into, out of, and around, our country and this week one of SA’s largest marine insurance businesses has been created. Etana Marine and Astra Maritime have integrated to create a powerful deliverer of superior marine protection for traded goods under the Hollard banner.
Combined premiums of over R250 million brings the new Hollard-Astra Marine into contention for SA’s #1 marine insurer and forms a powerful marine arm of Hollard Insurance. Hollard-Astra will be part of the newly formed Hollard Broker Markets, created following the R1 billion take-over deal of Etana Insurance by the Hollard Group, making Hollard the second largest insurer in South Africa and the largest independently owned.
Paolo Cavalieri, Managing Director of Hollard Broker Markets and former Chairman of Etana Insurance says: “Effective and excellent marine insurance plays a key role in our country’s GDP with the World Bank measuring South Africa’s exports of goods and services at nearly 27% of GDP in 2011 and 30% of GDP for imports. The growth of our export industry and economy depends on expert delivery of protective insurance for all cargos and transit systems – including container terminals, ports, oil platforms, pipelines, marine liability, and all systems that transfer, acquire or hold moving property.
“Our goal is to innovatively meet the continually changing protection needs of South African businesses to help meet the growth objectives outlined in the National Development and New Growth Plans which involve exports.’’
Cavalieri points out that the title “marine” insurance is misleading in the 21st century but grew from the fact that it is the oldest form of insurance in the world, dating back to the 14th century involving ships and goods. “In the 21st century marine insurance is about moving property in almost any imaginable way.”
Stef Theofanidis, current Managing Director of Hollard Insurance Partners says: “Astra Marine is a multiple award winner. In 2013 they received the PMR Africa Diamond Arrow Award as the highest rated Underwriting Manager in the Marine category. This followed their 2012 Diamond Arrow Award for Marine Liabilities. Astra also received the BID Century International Quality Gold Award in 2013. It is thrilling to enter a new era of integrating the best that Astra has to offer with that of Hollard and Etana Marine, creating a Centre of Excellence on steroids!”
THE MAIN PLAYERS
The former head of Etana Marine, Frank Ponnen, former chair of the Association of Marine Underwriters in SA and current member of the International Cargo Committee, will head-up the new entity as MD Ponnen says “Both Etana and Astra bring extraordinary marine expertise and capacity with them. This superior service will be delivered through Hollard’s 20-strong local branch network as well as internationally in Australia, India and China and an emerging African-licenced footprint. We’ll continue to operate from both the Hollard Campus in Parktown and the Astra Maritime premises in Bryanston and are proud to be a contender for the position of SA’s #1 marine insurer.”
Steven Forcey, is MD and one of the founding shareholders of Astra Maritime. He has an extensive and distinguished career in marine insurance. “This is an opportunity for long-term development and growth for Astra and its specialists to make a difference on a larger scale within the Hollard international environment.” He will become Deputy Chairman of Hollard-Astra Marine and continue to interact with long standing Astra clients and share his vast knowledge and expertise with the combined team on a semi-permanent basis. Forcey is an Executive member of the Association of Marine Underwriters in South Africa and former examiner for the Insurance Institute of South Africa.
Within Hollard Broker Markets will be Hollard Corporate Markets headed by Rob Hallier, who has a passion for creating solid growth. Both Ponnen and Forcey will report to him. He says: “Bringing these two businesses together will create extensive breadth and depth in skill and capacity which will cement our position as SA’s leading marine insurer with the country’s most experienced underwriters and category experts who can protect South African businesses as they grow. We will ‘give back’ this expertise to our clients to make a positive contribution to the future export development plans for our nation.”