Africa Specialty Risks (ASR) has launched a syndicate in Lloyd’s of London to underwrite specialty lines in Africa, in what it says is the first syndicate in the main London insurance market to be focused on the continent.

The syndicate is managed by Apollo and will underwrite business lines including political risk and trade credit, political violence and terrorism, energy and construction.

ASR, a London-headquartered re/insurer, began underwriting on April 26 and is targeting a gross premium of around £70mn for 2024. The company says in a statement that it may launch further lines of business during 2024, subject to approval.

The carrier says the syndicate – called ASR Syndicate 2454 – will both bring more “locally-sourced, high quality” African business to the Lloyd’s market, while also closing what it says is a large corporate and specialty insurance capacity gap on the continent.

Currently, just 2% of business underwritten at Lloyd’s comes from Africa, according to ASR.

“Across ASR, we are building a business whose prime mission is to increase insurance penetration across Africa, and Syndicate 2454 is another positive step in helping us achieve our objective,” says Mikir Shah, ASR’s chief executive.

“Working with Apollo and Lloyd’s, we hope to be able to bring innovative risk mitigation solutions to the African insurance market and encourage high quality international capital and investment to take advantage of the vast opportunities we see on the continent,” Shah adds.

ASR says it will seek to build additional Lloyd’s consortia following the launch of syndicate 2454.

Martin Boreham, ASR’s director of underwriting, says the company is aiming to be the “go-to market” for African business, “working with other Lloyd’s capacity providers to showcase the opportunities in Africa that we already see for re/insurers on a daily basis”.

ASR, backed by Helios Investment Partners, was established in 2020 and began underwriting the following year. Helios said at the time that ASR would help overcome a “sustained lack of adequate insurance capacity” across Africa, which is seen as a risky market by many insurers.