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Insurance

AMJ advises Qatar Petroleum on deal with Oman for Block 52

Filed under AMJ Deals, AMJ News, Insurance, Oil and Gas

AMJ has advised Qatar Petroleum on the acquisition of a 30% participating interest in the contractor’s interest under the exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) for Block 52 offshore of Oman. The deal involved AMJ advising Qatar Petroleum on Oman’s corporate, oil and gas and environmental laws and related regulatory approvals.

Following the completion of the assignment, the contractor under the EPSA will consist of affiliates of Eni with a 55% stake, Qatar Petroleum with 30% and Oman Oil Company Exploration and Production LLC with 15%.

Block 52 is an area of more than 90,000 km2 located offshore in the southern region of Oman extending from Al Wusta region towards Dhofar, encompassing the Hallaniyat islands. Largely under-explored, it is located in water depths ranging from 10 meters to over 2,000 meters. Following acquisition of the interest by Qatar Petroleum, the contractors are expected to embark on executing an exploration programme involving the acquisition and processing of 3D seismic which would be followed by exploratory drilling.

The AMJ team comprised senior partner, Mansoor Malik, and senior associate, Asad Qayyum. Allen & Overy acted as international counsel to Qatar Petroleum on the deal.

Commenting on the deal, Malik said “It is a pleasure to have advised Qatar Petroleum on its first hydrocarbon interest acquisition in Oman. As a premier LNG explorer and operator in the world, Qatar Petroleum’s entry into Oman is indicative of the attractive opportunities for investment available in the country”.

New rules for marketing insurance products in Oman

Filed under Capital Markets, Insurance, Takaful

Oman insurance rules

Oman’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) has published new rules for the marketing of insurance and takaful products in Oman (Decision E/69/2017). These replace the previous rules issued in 1983.

The new rules introduce a raft of additional requirements including:
– obliging insurers to complete CMA-issued application forms;
– expanding the documentation that an insurer needs to furnish in support of its application for product approval including: policy documents in Arabic, or Arabic translations (which are deemed to override their English counterparts); the insurer’s pricing policy for the product (which must be consistent with the insurer’s board approved underwriting and pricing policy); and marketing materials for the policy;
– recognition of fairness standards, which oblige insurers to ensure that policy documentation is balanced and fair;
– introduction of a time-bound application process (30 days in which to complete the application process from initial filing) and response process (30 days from filing of a complete application for the CMA to respond); and
– levying fees which insurance companies are required to pay the CMA for scrutiny of the product application (OMR 100) and for marketing it in Oman (OMR 500).

While overall the new rules bring structure to the previous practice-driven approach to obtaining CMA approval for marketing new products, insurers are likely to need further guidance on matters not specifically addressed by them. These include the procedure to be followed upon a refusal or deemed refusal of an application by the CMA, or the impact on insured parties and reinsurers of the cancellation by the CMA of consent for marketing a product.

For more on Oman’s insurance law, contact Ardeshir Patel.

AMJ advises Howden Broking Group on key Oman acquisition

Filed under AMJ Deals, AMJ News, Insurance

HowdenBrokingGroup

AMJ recently advised leading insurance group, Howden Broking Group on the acquisition of a majority stake from the founder shareholders of New Generation Insurance Services in Oman. The new entity is renamed Howden Insurance Brokers LLC. The parties agreed not to disclose details of the transaction terms.

Howden is the retail broking arm of UK-based Hyperion Insurance Group, the world’s largest employee-owned insurance group which employs more than 3,800 people across 38 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

This transaction represents a major step in the development of Howden’s business in Oman. David Howden, CEO of Howden and parent company Hyperion said in a statement to the press that “Oman has a rapidly growing insurance market and one to which we can bring a fresh approach for clients by leveraging our existing expertise in the region as well as the wider Group’s access to specialist products and markets in London and internationally.”

AMJ’s was led by senior partner, Mansoor Malik, and senior associate, Asad Qayyum working closely with in-house counsel at Howden and Hyperion.

New rules for Oman’s insurance brokers

Filed under Capital Markets, Insurance

Oman insurance broker

In April, Oman’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) issued a new regulation for insurance and reinsurance brokers. The new rules contain more stringent capital and guarantee requirements, major changes to the insurance brokerage licensing regime and restrictions designed to prevent conflicts of interest.

Under the new rules the current single brokerage licence which covered both insurance and reinsurance brokerage will be replaced by three separate licences for (i) re-insurance brokerage, (ii) insurance brokerage, and (iii) dual brokerage. Applications for the new licences are likely to entail brokerage firms amending their commercial activities as registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The most significant impact of the new rules for many brokerages will lie in the introduction of a minimum capital of OMR100,000. This represents a five-fold increase for many Omani brokerages currently registered with a capital of OMR20,000 under the Commercial Companies Law. Thresholds for the bank guarantees required to be deposited with the CMA as part of the licensing process have also been raised from OMR50,000 to OMR75,000 for insurance brokers, OMR150,000 for reinsurance brokers and OMR 200,000 for dual brokers.

The new rules also ban the ‘founders’ of brokerage companies from concurrently working for insurance companies, other brokers or agents in Oman. The percentage of shares a broker may hold in an insurance company has also been reduced from 10% to 5%. The combined effect of these restrictions is to lessen the risk of conflicts of interest arising between the insurance and insurance/reinsurance brokerage markets and to curtail the scope for interference by brokers in the conduct of insurance business. Another restriction is the ban on brokers from receiving or claiming any interest generated by the sums deposited in brokerage bank accounts (i.e. the accounts in which brokers keep client monies), from using these funds to obtain credit facilities or as security for bank loans.

The regulation is likely to have a significant impact on the brokerage industry in Oman. The robust approach taken signals the regulator’s determination to raise standards and adopt best international practice across all segments of the financial services sector in Oman.

For more on Oman’s insurance law, contact Mansoor Malik or Hussein Azmy

AMJ advises on Falcon and Arabia Insurance’s landmark deal

Filed under AMJ Deals, AMJ News, Insurance

Falcon insurance merger

AMJ recently acted as sole counsel at the request of both parties with regard to a complex share-purchase transaction in the insurance sector. The transaction, which completed at the end of March, involved the transfer of the Oman branch assets of Lebanese Arabia Insurance SAL, to Omani insurer, Falcon Insurance SAOC. Contemporaneous with Falcon’s acquisition of Arabia’s Oman branch insurance portfolio, Arabia Insurance acquired a majority share (54.29%) in Falcon.The deal involved a number of ‘firsts‘, namely the:-

 first ever transfer of a life insurance portfolio by court order in accordance with article 39 of Oman’s Insurance Law;
 first ever transfer of business (both life and general insurance) from a foreign insurer’s branch operation to an Omani closed joint stock insurance company requiring approval of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI);
 first ever settlement of a business transfer consideration by the issue of shares to the seller’s wholly-owned subsidiary requiring approval by the MOCI of the business valuation;
 simultaneous acquisition of a majority stake and transfer of insurance portfolio requiring approvals from the MOCI, Capital Market Authority and the court.

AMJ’s team, led by Mansoor Malik, Managing Partner, advised on all aspects of the deal drafting the transaction documents and article 39 application to the court as well as assisting the client to obtain all the regulatory approvals necessary for successful completion.

The team also included corporate transactions partner, Ahmed Hashim, senior associates Nasar Ahmad, Majda Al Riyami and Abdullatif Al Rawahi, and associate Ahmed Al Busaidy.

Dentons Oman branch advised Falcon’s majority shareholder on the sale of its shares to Arabia.