Insure yourself against management dishonesty

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in Journalism

InvestSure had made payouts on nine events in the past year, including those related to MTN, Tongaat and EOH. From Moneyweb.

The insurance pays out on allegations (not proof) of fraud or dishonesty at 123 JSE-listed companies. Picture: Bloomberg News

The insurance pays out on allegations (not proof) of fraud or dishonesty at 123 JSE-listed companies. Picture: Bloomberg News

InvestSure was started a year ago by two entrepreneurs, Shane Curran and Mbulelo Mpofana, to provide insurance cover to shareholders against allegations of management fraud or dishonesty.

Curran is a chartered accountant, and Mpofana has a degree in actuarial science. They were introduced to each other by reinsurance company Hannover Re, which has thrown its financial and technical might behind the company.

Given what has been happening just this year in terms of corporate scandals, this looks like a gold mine. There are other hedging products that protect against a decline in share price, but none that specifically protect against claims of fraud and dishonesty.

The investment fraud insurance product is a world first and will soon be offered to the international market.

The insurance pays out on allegations of fraud or dishonesty. Bear in mind that it often takes years for actual fraud or dishonesty to be proven. It offers insurance on 123 Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) stocks, and the timing of InvestSure’s launch could not have been more fortuitous, with multiple corporate scandals fanning shareholder fears of more to come.

To date, 6 500 shareholders have bought insurance and the company has paid out on nine events, including MTN’s well-documented troubles in Nigeria, Tongaat’s announcement that it will have to restate its financial results, and allegations of corrupt public sector contracts at EOH.

The cost of the insurance is 0.6% of the share value and is valid for a year. A payout requires a minimum 10% move in share price over two days. The company itself flags claimable events on its website, and payouts are made within a minute or so of a valid claim being made, says Mpofana.

The product is offered on the Easy Equities share trading platform, but will soon be available on other platforms.

What shares are currently hot for the insurance fraud product?

Capitec, Discovery, Naspers and Dis-Chem, says Curran. MTN was a big hit several months ago, and remains a favourite for those looking for insurance protection.

“I think there is a general nervousness about the potential for fraud and dishonesty in the market because of the number of corporate scandals we have read about over the last few years,” says Mpofana. “People are taking out insurance on some very respectable companies as an additional layer of protection.”

The product does not cover losses due to macro or micro economic factors, political risks or any general business risk such as failure to execute a business plan or meet estimates or market expectations. Directors and their immediate family who hold shares in the company in which they are directors do not qualify for the cover.

Buyers of the insurance can keep an eye on the InvestSure newsboard to see what events are being flagged and whether there has been a payout.

It is important to note that a payout for allegations of misconduct is not proof of misconduct, says Mpofana.

“Once we notify clients of a claimable event, they have to sell the shares within 30 days in order to get a payout. This is paid immediately into their investment accounts.”

A sampling of the payout history

The two entrepreneurs are looking at other risks that can be isolated and insured, but for the moment have their hands full with this one.

Ciaran Ryan

The Writer's Room is a curated by Ciaran Ryan, who has written on South African affairs for Sunday Times, Mail & Guardian, Financial Mail, Finweek, Noseweek, The Daily Telegraph, Forbes, USA Today, Acts Online and Lewrockwell.com, among others. In between he manages a gold mining operation in Ghana, and previously worked in Congo. Most of his time is spent in the lovely city of Joburg.