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James Cowper advises on MicroEnsure investment round

Thames Valley and South Coast accountants James Cowper has advised the owners and management team of specialist insurance provider MicroEnsure on a new investment round and the structuring of a joint venture. 

MicroEnsure is a UK-based insurance provider offering micro-insurance products to four million low and middle income families in Africa and Asia. It provides a range of life, health, property and weather related insurance products through local distribution partners that include microfinance companies, co-operatives and telecoms companies.

The transaction will see founding US investor Opportunity International decrease its stake, with new investment from International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank; Omidyar Network, a US-based philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam; and select members of the MicroEnsure management team.

In conjunction with this investment MicroEnsure has established a joint venture with Telenor Group, a mobile telephone operator with more than 149 million subscribers across Asia and Europe. The joint venture company, called MicroEnsure Asia, will seek to become the leading mass-market insurer in Asia and Eastern Europe.

James Cowper’s corporate finance team, lead by Stewart Lambert with support from Stuart Williams, advised MicroEnsure’s owners and management team in relation to the investment and in structuring the new joint venture company. The transaction was completed on 15 January 2013.

Lambert says: “This has been a tremendously complex transaction that has taken 18 months to complete. MicroEnsure’s corporate headquarters are in the UK with their investors and joint venture partners located across Europe and the US, with clients across Africa and Asia. MicroEnsure has for the past five years been funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  This new funding and joint venture will mean that it can continue to grow and help lift many more families around the world out of the poverty trap.”

Richard Leftley, chief executive of MicroEnsure, says: “This is a very exciting time for MicroEnsure and we are delighted with our new investment and joint venture partners.  They will enable us to continue to reach out and continue to help millions of families around the world who traditionally have little of no access to insurance and help them escape from crippling poverty.

“I would also like to extend our thanks to Stewart Lambert and his team at James Cowper. They have worked tremendously hard to bring together all the different parties and their advisors and drive this development capital transaction forward. They have been an essential part of the team.”

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