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Your EC News 24 November 2016

  • Publish Date: Posted over 7 years ago

Roundup of the weekly news and developments from the global insurance market with stories from AIG, Beach, Towergate and more

AIG is thinking about moving its European headquarters to another EU country

AIG is thinking about moving its European headquarters from London to another European Union country due to Britain's vote to leave the EU, the head of AIG's European and UK operations has confirmed. Anthony Baldwin, AIG chief executive for Europe and the UK told the Association of British Insurers' conference that, "At a certain point in time you have to pull the trigger in the absence of any clarity on where negotiations are going with the transition period." Asked whether he could take a decision to move the London head office to elsewhere in the EU in the coming year, he replied, "Yes, we might take that decision." Baldwin said AIG has experience of moving operations after shifting its European head office from Paris to London five years ago. "We will always continue to have a big London hub but we might have a European headquarters elsewhere."

Shane Doyle becomes partner at Beach

Shane Doyle, the former CEO of Dual, has become a partner at Beach with responsibility for leading and growing the company’s global portfolio business. Doyle joined Dual in 2012 and saw the company grow rapidly becoming the largest managing general agency before leaving in 2015. He brings over 20 years’ experience covering South Africa, New Zealand, the Middle East, Europe and the UK. Doyle is reported to have joined Beach because of its positioning in the market meaning it has the potential to grow in the portfolio space. Grahame Millwater hopes that Doyle will help drive the company’s portfolio business during a time of significant global change.

David Ross upbeat on organic growth at Towergate

David Ross, chief executive of Towergate, has confirmed the consolidator recorded a 5.9% rise in profits to £19.4m for the third quarter of 2016. "This is very much an inflexion period for the company where we are transitioning from shrinkage mode into build mode." The rise came despite a fall in income to £80.8m from £84.9m last year. He said that the company has the structure in place for organic growth but admitted that the recovery was still ongoing saying that these changes take time in such a big company. Towergate recorded lower staff expenses of £42.0m for the quarter, down from £47.9m in the same period of 2015. Ross highlighted that this was not due to staff departures, countering that it was in fact due to people not leaving the business. He explained, "If you go back 18 months when 35% of the company was resigning you have to replace people. You are transitioning the company and that costs millions and millions of pounds." According to Ross, staff turnover is the lowest it has been in his time with Towergate and creating a positive atmosphere with contented employees was his and his management team's biggest achievement.

Lloyd's hosts Chinese delegation as part of UK trade talks

Lloyds hosted an event which explored how the UK and Chinese insurance industry could build on their existing relationship and deepen their cooperation. Chairman of Lloyd’s, John Nelson, who hosted the event, described the current relationship between the UK and China as in a “golden period” and emphasised the role that Lloyd’s could play in China’s growth plans. “We very much look forward to working in partnership with Chinese insurers and businesses to develop solutions and help build resilience to the many risks in the world today that threaten economic growth. We are committed to increasing our contribution to this ever-strengthening UK-China relationship and hope that this wonderful spirit of cooperation continues to grow.” Speaking at the event, Chairman of China Re, Zhang Hong, highlighted the cooperation between Chinese and UK insurance regulators on a range of areas including regulation of oversea investment and reform of the solvency system. He also praised the cooperation between the two countries on insurance market access between the two countries, using China Re’s example of setting up a managing agent in the Lloyd’s market. He called on the UK and Chinse insurance sectors to work together more closely on insurance investment by investing in bonds, securities and other assets that support big infrastructure projects in the two countries and the EU, working together on insurance products and services and looking at new initiatives such as insurance institutions, mutual and insurance funds.

Sompo Canopius CEO steps down

Sompo Canopius has announced that Stuart Davies is withdrawing from his role as group CEO and all other related responsibilities. Davies joined Sompo Canopius in 2015 with a mandate to lead the group through a period of change and the insurer stated that he has been very successful in doing so. Sompo Canopius highlighted that Davies has charted a new course for the provider as it works to fulfil its potential as part of Sompo Holdings, spearheading a renewed focus on profitability and agility. Michael Watson, founder and currently non-executive chairman of Sompo Canopius, will move into the role of executive chairman. He will be supported by Mike Duffy, group chief underwriting officer and Paul Cooper, group chief financial and operating officer. Davies said, "It has been a pleasure to lead Sompo Canopius as group CEO and I would like to thank everyone for their support and hard work. The team at Sompo Canopius is full of talented and knowledgeable people and I wish them all the best."

Axa puts reinsurers resolve to the test

A test of the aviation reinsurance market is in the planning as the merits of a 50% whole account quota share sought by Axa is being explored. Axa has told reinsurers with a view of placing the major new pro rate treaty at the 1 December. Some have voiced their concerns at the move due to recent rate reductions causing a loss in the market. It is thought that a number of reinsurance companies won’t support Axa with the unavailability of new quota share capacity spreading from the upstream energy sector to aviation, as tightening market conditions take hold. One concern raised by reinsurers is that Axa will place the cover at the bottom of the cycle when it is likely to be marginal and could even be loss-making depending on loss experience.

HDI Global enters into UK cyber market

HDI Global has revealed it is entering into the UK Cyber market and has hired the expertise of Peter Hawley to underwrite the new business. HDI Global will offer a dedicated cyber breach response policy with its debut product in the UK Market. The offering will cover a wide range of industry sectors and have an initial limit of $53mn. The policy covers, carrying out forensic examinations to secure the breach, cost of defending the insured, business interruption, defending clients reputation and credit card monitoring. Hawley is to be joined by property underwriter James Stiff and believes that HDI is well placed to understand the implications associated with a breach and how to minimise its effects.

Four of Chaucers underwriters top honoured list

Chauser had four of its underwriter’s named in this year’s Gracechurch top 10 ranking. The four underwriters were Mike Clifton and Ryan Ward, casualty and non-marine liability, underwriter James Mecham and war and geopolitical risks writer Nick Kilhams. Hiscox, Liberty Specialty Markets and XL Catlin saw 3 of their underwriters in the top ten as nominated by brokers and peers. Trubshaw was the top pick of both underwriters and brokers as the London market's leading underwriter and was the only underwriter to feature in both rankings. Peter Sprent, head of global financial risks at Liberty Specialty Markets, was ranked second by fellow underwriters, while Tim Prifti, group practice leader for accident and health at Tokio Marine Kiln, came in third. 

Willis Towers Watson executive to get $21m pay-off

A top executive at Willis Towers Watson is to receive a pay-off of up to $21m when he leaves the insurance broker and consultancy at the end of the year, according to documents analysed by the Financial Times. The payment to Dominic Casserley, the deputy chief executive, comes at the end of a year when shares in Willis Towers Watson have sharply underperformed those of its two main rivals. The company said last month that Casserley, who headed insurance broker Willis before it merged with Towers Watson at the start of this year, would leave when his contract expires at the end of 2016. According to company filings, non-renewal of Casserley’s contract will trigger a cash payment of about $8m and share-based awards worth about $13m. He will also qualify for about $200,000 of other benefits. Casserley was chief executive of Willis and stayed on with the title of president and deputy chief executive. He received a salary of $1m per year as well as bonuses. When his departure was announced, Willis Towers Watson chairman Jim McCann said that Casserley, who co-led the integration process, was “crucial to the design, negotiation and success of the Willis Towers Watson merger”.