Warburg Pincus invests $350mn to seed Asian digital insurer

American VC firm Warburg Pincus is partnering with an industry veteran to launch a new digital insurance platform in Asia, backed by a US$350mn investment.

American venture capital group Warburg Pincus is investing US$350mn to create a new digital insurance platform for Southeast Asia, called Oona Insurance.

The firm is partnering with seasoned insurance executive Abhishek Bhatia, who spent over a decade in various roles at Prudential before serving as CEO of FWD Insurance in Singapore for four-and-a-half years. He is now CEO at Aseana Insurance, a new venture backed entirely by Warburg Pincus, and will help to get Oona off the ground.

On its website, Aseana Insurance suggests that it is targeting the health and motor segments as well as ‘new age’ insurance products like mobile insurance and ecommerce insurance. It will focus on six core markets: Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Oona Insurance is seeded with two recent acquisitions in Indonesia and the Philippines, which provide it with an immediate foothold, and Warburg Pincus is planning to grow this out further through a predominantly ‘buy-and-build’ strategy.

The new digital insurance player plans to build a new tech stack that focuses on enhancing the customer experience. It aims to be the “number one choice” for partners and customers based on its levels of service, technology and brand, the company says in a statement.

‘Largest ever investment’ to seed a digital insurer in Asia

Warburg Pincus has been investing in the insurance industry for more than 30 years, providing over US$3bn in equity capital to more than 25 different insurance companies globally. The launch of Oona Insurance will amplify its presence in Asia, where it has become one of the largest and most active investors – particularly in insurance – since it first entered the region in 2013. Warburg Pincus claims its US$350mn backing is the largest ever investment to seed a digital insurance platform in the region.

Abhishek Bhatia, Group CEO of Oona, says: “General insurance is a significantly underpenetrated industry in the region and a sector that’s ripe for digital disruption. Legacy systems and mindset amongst incumbents provide a real opportunity to create a truly customer-focused organisation with a strong tech and brand spine. I am very excited to partner with Warburg Pincus to build Oona into a truly world-class company.

“With the support of Warburg Pincus, Oona will continue to explore opportunities to deepen the depth and breadth of its presence in key markets in Southeast Asia. All the assets and operations will be consolidated under a coherent operating model and a common brand and tech stack, positioning us well to capture the rapidly growing opportunities for digital general insurance in the region.”

Saurabh Agarwal, Managing Director at Warburg Pincus, continues: “With consistently rising incomes and accelerating digital adoption, we believe Oona is well-positioned to capture the tremendous growth opportunity for digital insurance across Southeast Asia. We are excited about our partnership with Abhishek and Oona’s talented management team, and look forward to leveraging our deep expertise in the insurance sector to support Oona’s growth aspirations. With our steadfast commitment, we are confident that Oona will evolve into a truly differentiated platform that will consolidate the market and create the most compelling insurance products to reach the massively underserved market in the region.”


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