SBI makes general insurance JV with IAG

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Mumbai, Nov 24 (UNI) State Bank of India (SBI) has entered into a joint venture with Insurance Australia Group (IAG) for its foray into the general insurance business.

SBI will be holding a 74 per cent stake, while the balance 26 per cent will be held by IAG, subject to Reserve Bank approval. The company hopes to commence business in the next financial year, SBI said in a press release here today.

SBI Chairman O P Bhatt said the joint venture is part of the bank's strategic initiatives to retain its position as the pre-eminent financial services group in the country. ''Insurance penetration in India is very low and the general insurance industry is expected to grow at a brisk rate of 15-20 per cent per annum over a period of next 10-years,'' Mr Bhatt opined.

He expressed confidence that with the help of its extensive distribution network SBI, which is already offering life insurance products through its subsidiary SBI Life Insurance Company, will be able to provide protection to people even in the far-flung rural and semi-urban areas in the country and help deepen the market.

IAG's Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Wilkins, said that the joint venture was a significant step in IAG's strategy to pursue select international general insurance opportunities.

UNI AR RN NP1758

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