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FINANCIAL services firm Religare Enterprises has entered into a non-binding agreement with the world’s second-largest reinsurer Swiss Re to form a health insurance joint venture (JV) in India, a Religare company statement said. The new venture is expected to be operational by 2010.

An initial investment in the venture is estimated at around Rs 500 crore. Although the structure of the JV is not disclosed, current Indian laws restrict foreign holding in insurance sector to a maximum of 26%, which would mean Religare will hold at least 74% in the venture.

Public listed Religare Enterprises is majority owned by Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, former promoters of drug firm Ranbaxy. The family owns a host of health care companies, which include hospital chain Fortis Health care, diagnostic chain Super Religare and chemist outlets under Religare Wellness.

Zurich-based Swiss Re will provide actuarial, risk management and underwriting expertise in the venture, while Religare would offer distribution space through its financial services business.

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