Aon expands partnerships to better serve clients in Sub-Saharan Africa

As published on FA News on January 21st 2017

In line with its global growth strategy, Aon plc (NYSE:AON), the leading global provider of risk management, human resource consulting and outsourcing today announced two important strategic developments in its sub-Saharan Africa operations, reaffirming its positive outlook for business on the continent.

Capitalworks, a leading Africa focused and based private equity firm specialising in investing on the continent, is to acquire Aon’s shareholding in 10 employee benefit, insurance and reinsurance brokerage operations in Angola, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The new entity will become Aon’s exclusive correspondent for these 10 countries and will be Aon’s largest exclusive global network correspondent on the African continent. The transaction will become effective once all regulatory approvals have been granted.

“We maintain a positive outlook for sub-Saharan Africa as an exciting operating environment and our pan-African strategy is focused on supporting our colleagues and collaborating closely with local leaders and partners. We believe that empowering colleagues and partners is the most effective way to serve our clients and unlock growth potential,” said John Cullen, CEO of Aon Risk Solutions in EMEA.

Capitalworks is a leading independent alternative asset manager concentrating on sub-Saharan Africa. Capitalworks manages more than US$515 million of assets for a diverse range of international investors. Capitalworks’ philosophy is centred on building exceptional businesses through partnering with leading entrepreneurs and management teams.

Cullen continued: “With Capitalworks we’ve chosen to partner with an investor with a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance and operational experience. The combination of Capitalworks’ track record in the region, backed by Aon’s global expertise, leverage and economies of scale will bring clear benefits for our clients.”

“We are excited about investing in a world-class operation with a market-leading position in Africa,’’ added Garth Willis, Principal at Capitalworks. ‘’We will be working with management to build on the Aon heritage as a trusted partner to clients in protecting the future of their people and assets in Africa. Capitalworks is excited to be partnering with a management team that has grown the business to be one of the largest insurance broker and employee benefit networks on the continent.”

Aon operates successfully through correspondent arrangements in a number of countries globally, and in other African markets such as Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. This transaction will give Aon one of the most comprehensive correspondent networks on the continent, backed by an African-owned company. The new entity will have the benefit of consistency in leadership and staffing, with Joe Onsando, currently CEO of Aon sub-Saharan Africa, leading the business supported by his existing teams in all 10 countries.

Joe Onsando commented: “The African continent presents great opportunities for growth and this transaction affirms a positive investment outlook for Africa driven by sound long-term fundamentals. This transaction will enable us to be even more responsive to the needs of our clients and should have a positive impact on both product development and client service. The combination of global and in-country expertise will continue to help us to continue to lead the market in risk management on the continent.”

Strengthening partnerships in South Africa

In keeping with Aon’s commitment to partnership and Africa-based ownership, Aon South Africa has also extended its Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) partnership for a further seven-year period with the Vurhonga Consortium. The initial BBBEE transaction was entered into in 2011, with Aon South Africa selling a 25.1% stake to the Vurhonga Consortium. The extension of the partnership deal re-affirms Aon’s commitment to and support of the transformation of the South African economy, and its continued investment in the country. Aon South Africa is currently a level 3 BBBEE contributor.

“Transformation continues to play a pivotal part of our growth strategy in South Africa, and we are pleased to engage with partners who share the same values of business development, community consciousness and socio-economic investment. We’re committed to basing our BBBEE plans on growth, development and enterprise development. By strategically managing our partnership with Vurhonga, we’re able to create real, grass roots societal value where it is needed most,” said Terence Williams, CEO of Aon South Africa.