(Bloomberg) -- Zurich Insurance Group AG plans to increase headcount in India by 40% over the next three years, adding 600 people following its acquisition of a majority stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.’s general insurance unit. 

The Swiss firm is pursuing growth in the “super important, super attractive market” as it looks to expand business “across the board”, said its chief executive officer for Asia Pacific. 

“India will soon be the world’s third largest economy, the largest working age population, the biggest middle class amongst emerging markets, the strongest route of growth in the G-20 for insurance,” Tulsi Naidu said in an interview.

There are opportunities to grow in commercial, small and medium enterprise, assurance, auto and general insurance, Naidu said, noting the business has already recorded growth of 40% “over the past few years.”  

“The penetration level for general insurance in India is a quarter of the world average,” she said. “We see the development of digital as one of the things that is a big enabler in terms of insurance access.”

The Swiss firm completed its 55.6 billion rupee ($666 million) purchase of a 70% stake in Kotak General Insurance Company Ltd. last week, becoming the first foreign insurer to enter the country after investment limits were relaxed in 2021. Pending and completed insurance deals for India assets over the past five years total more than $14 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.  

The Indian business currently employs 1500 people. It will add talent in digital development, commercial insurance underwriting and distribution, and in product and proposition development, Naidu said.

Zurich Insurance is active in eight markets in Asia Pacific following the acquisition, according to the CEO. “In 2023, across the region we had $3.6 billion of general insurance business and $2.9 billion of life premiums,” she said, generating an operating profit of $565 million.  

--With assistance from Manuel Baigorri.

(Adds Zurich Insurance financial performance data in last paragraph.)

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