Upping its game in Asean

PETALING JAYA: Tune Protect Group Bhd is on an expansion drive as it looks to forge more partnerships in Asean to fuel its earnings growth.

Though its earnings in 2020 have been impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, analysts are generally bullish that this year would be a better year for the group, thanks to the Covid-19 vaccination programme, which holds the key to eased travel restrictions.

Tune Protect Group’s new CEO Rohit Nambiar (pic below) told StarBiz in an interview that he is confident the group stands on a firm footing to further expand its presence in Asean.

“From last year up till the end of the first quarter of this year, we have secured more than 20 partnerships across Asean and the Middle East. This is the direction that we are looking at for the next three years.

“To us, expansion in the region does not necessarily mean through mergers and acquisitions. Having said that, we are always open to any opportunities that arise.

“One of our strategic directions is to build Tune Protect as an Asean insurer. Our present focus is to accelerate partnership propositions in the region, ” he said.

Rohit noted that the group has established its footprint in Malaysia, Thailand and Dubai, and is actively looking for opportunities within the region and Middle East, which is its preferred market space.

The group has embarked on various lifestyle-driven affinity partnerships beyond travel, which include digital reward and loyalty programmes, logistics as well as property to offer on-demand and lifestyle-based solutions via its insurance and reinsurance entities.

“With our new target segments, which are millennials, zillennials, young professionals and young families, we are confident that we can be the lifestyle insurer that everyone seeks for.”

Rohit said Tune Protect would be focusing on three key pillars – health, lifestyle and small and medium enterprise (SME) – as part of its transformation strategy.

“Our business growth in the next three years would predominantly be driven by these three pillars. We target to achieve a portfolio mix of health and travel (40%), lifestyle and motor (40%) and SME and others (20%) by 2023, ” he said.

For the fourth quarter of 2020, the group reported a lower profit after tax (PAT) of RM1.6mil compared with RM11.4mil a year ago.

As for the full year ended Dec 31,2020, its PAT stood at RM28.2mil against RM58.1mil in 2019.

Tune Group and AirAsia Group (via AirAsia Digital Sdn Bhd) currently own 29.4% in Tune Protect Group.


Elaborating on the second part of its transformation strategy, Rohit said: “Another growth driver will be the acceleration of our partnerships across Asean with insurance partners as well as affinity and digital partners.

“We have a significant number of partnerships in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Middle East.

“The group has announced its tie-up with Bamboo Airways via earlier collaboration with Bao Viet Insurance Corp, the largest general insurer in Vietnam; Rabbit Rewards, Luma Health and Buzzebees in Thailand; Ly Hour Insurance in Cambodia and BOXKU in Malaysia, ” he added.

Travel, he said, would nevertheless remain a key contributor to Tune Protect’s business, adding that it has seen positive take-up and performance of travel insurance from its overseas ventures in Thailand and the Middle East, thanks to several “new-normal” initiatives implemented.

For instance, in the Middle East, the Covid-19 Plus Extension product for the business-to-business (B2B) segment was introduced, which resulted in a higher take up.

In Thailand, Tune Protect had introduced the Tune iPass, with the latest regulations from the Office of Insurance Commission that travellers must purchase travel insurance covering at least US$100,000.

Meanwhile, CGS-CIMB Research said that Tune Protect’s focus on SMEs, which represents a large economic segment in the Malaysian market, would help the group reduce exposure in the travel insurance business.

“Assuming that the company can achieve a 50% growth in SME-related premium in financial year 2021 (FY21), this would contribute about 7.5% to its FY21 forecast gross premium growth, based on our estimate, ” it added.

TA Securities, which is maintaining a “buy” call on the stock, said in a note that following the weaker-than-expected results, it has lowered the assumptions for take-up rate for travel insurance for FY21 and FY22. All in, earnings forecasts for FY21 and FY22 are reduced by 24.6% and 15.7%, respectively.

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