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EC News Asia Edition (18th April 2018)

  • Publish Date: Posted about 6 years ago
  • Author:by Alan Jarque

Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Peak Re, RKH Specialty, Willis Towers Watson and more.

Peak Re completes sale of 13.1% stake to Prudential Financial

Peak Reinsurance Company has completed the sale of a 13.1 percent stake in Peak Re Holdings to Prudential Financial, Inc.

The deal was completed via the issuance of new shares to a wholly owned subsidiary of Prudential Financial.

Prior to this transaction, Peak Re Holdings also sold shares previously held by International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, to Fosun International Limited.

Fosun and Prudential Financial now hold 86.9 percent and 13.1 percent of Peak Re respectively, via their stakes in Peak Re Holdings.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Peak Re is now a part of the Fosun family, a Chinese international conglomerate and investment company whose total assets exceed USD$75bn.

RKH appoints Beatty as regional CEO for Asia Pacific

RKH Specialty, part of the Hyperion Insurance Group, has appointed Stuart Beatty as its regional CEO for Asia Pacific, based in Singapore.

In the newly created role Beatty will focus on developing the company’s specialty capabilities in the region.

Beatty has over 30 years of insurance and reinsurance experience, most recently as Asia Pacific CEO at JLT Re. He also worked in Singapore for a decade with brokers Aon Benfield and JLT, managing placements as well as servicing teams for the firm’s clients in the region.

The company’s business in Asia Pacific currently focusses on property, power, energy, construction and also financial risks’ expertise in Singapore and FP Marine, its specialist marine broker domiciled in Hong Kong.

RKH Specialty CEO, Barnaby Rugge-Price remarked: “Local and regional markets continue to mature across the globe and clients are increasingly choosing to buy in those markets. We intend to provide clients with the widest and clearest picture of global markets, helping them to identify their best underwriting partners, wherever they may be.

“With Stuart’s skills and experience we aim to build on the success of RKH and FP Marine in the region. His expertise will help us capitalise on opportunities throughout the Asia-Pacific region, focusing our initial efforts on working with colleagues to deliver products and services that are most in demand.”

Commenting on his new role, Beatty said: “RKH Specialty is already a known and respected quantity in London and increasingly in Asia Pacific. Over the last five years, the region has seen a significant increase in specialty lines capacity, authority and talent and this provides an excellent platform on which to build market-leading capabilities for RKH Specialty. My role will be to help demonstrate and deliver our expertise across a full range of specialties to a wider client base.”

Willis Towers Watson hires Jeffers to strengthen APAC financial services capabilities

Willis Towers Watson has named Jamie Jeffers as divisional director – financial solutions, as part of an ongoing process to bolster its financial services capabilities across the region.

Based in Sydney, Australia, Jeffers reports to Stuart Ashworth - managing director of financial solutions, Asia Pacific, who is based in Singapore.

Commenting on the new appointment, Ashworth said: “Global commercial, technological and regulatory changes continue to influence the way in which clients evaluate, measure and manage risk. The financial solutions team within Willis Towers Watson has been partnering and advising clients in risk and capital management for over 30 years. We are delighted to welcome Jamie into the team to further expand that knowledge and offering into the Australian market.

“Jamie has significant experience working with Australian lenders, and understands how the insurance market can interact with, and complement their distribution strategy. Leveraging our global expertise, Jamie will provide guidance and assistance to both international and domestic clients in Australia, allowing those clients to understand and access insurance capacity and capital.”

Before joining Willis Towers Watson, Jeffers worked for the Westpac Group for over 10 years where he was most recently its sector head of insurance relationships for financial institutions in Westpac Institutional Bank.

Chairman of financial solutions, Paul Davidson said: “We are delighted to welcome Jamie to financial solutions as part of the continuing expansion of our presence in the region. We have made a significant investment over a number of years in establishing a highly skilled and experienced team in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney in order to provide fast, knowledgeable and efficient expertise to our financial institution client base and prompt access to the expanding worldwide underwriting community. Operating as a single global business enables us to connect our clients to the resources of our entire global team through our colleagues operating locally, consistent with our global strategy.”

Established in 1979, and now recognised as a market leader, Willis Towers Watson’s financial solutions division is the world’s largest structured credit and political risk broker. The business mitigates risk by way of broking credit and political risk insurance in excess of USD$30bn of emerging market exposure annually, with approximately 25 percent of the world market share.

Beazley appoints Mounier to head its Asia Pacific operations

Beazley has appointed Lucien Mounier to head its Asia Pacific operations, succeeding Gavin Hayes who returns to Beazley's specialty lines division in London after leading the Singapore-based team for the past three years.   

Mounier moves from Paris to be based in the firm’s Asia Pacific hub in Singapore, and he will have responsibility for developing Beazley’s business across the region, working closely with Bryan Lee, Beazley Singapore’s principal officer.

For the last two years in Paris, Mounier has been responsible for managing and expanding a portfolio of cyber and technology business in France, as well as other continental European markets, and also in Asia.

Beazley has identified significant growth opportunities in the region for its specialist insurance products and has expanded its local underwriting and lines of business in response. Most recently, last October it launched a comprehensive financial lines suite of products, and has plans to further develop its cyber offering in Asia Pacific.   

Patrick Hartigan, who is responsible for Beazley's strategic growth initiative in the Asia Pacific region, said: "The Asia Pacific market is of strategic importance to Beazley. Our 30-strong team in Singapore has grown our business significantly over the past 12 years, and from this base we believe that there are many opportunities for us to expand across our portfolio of specialist insurance products.   

"I'd like to thank Gavin for his leadership over the past three years and to welcome Lucien to the role.  He has a very solid base from which to build our operations in the future and, with his background in cyber risk, is exceptionally well-qualified to help us develop this and other products for the local market."

Merger of 3 state-owned insurers could be industry game changer

The Indian government's proposal to merge three state-owned general insurers can trigger a whole bunch of initiatives, yielding positive returns for all the key stakeholders-industry, shareholders and customers, says Rohit Jain, head of India for Willis Towers Watson.

In an article, he says that the merger of National Insurance, United India Insurance and Oriental India Insurance can have massive consequences as the merged entity will end up controlling about one-third of the total non-life insurance market in India.

With the merger, one can expect an end to unhealthy competition among the companies and a more sensible underwriting discipline. This merger presents an opportunity for the companies to transform into a new-age entity in today’s fast paced and dynamic insurance market by discarding some of the legacy operating protocols, which have become bureaucratic over a period of time, and reinventing organisational structures.

A merger of this size and stature will provide cost synergies primarily around infrastructure, operational efficiencies fuelled by economies of scale and optimisation around marketing spend. The “InsurTech” space hands a golden opportunity to the merged entity to strongly embrace technology and leverage it as a differentiator while competing with private sector insurers.

Apart from improving customer experience, the merged entity can enhance customer reachability and expand across under-penetrated geographies. With a huge talent pool and wealth of experience in a unique and intricate Indian market, innovative “productisation” can be expected from the stables of the combined entity. Until now, the focus has been restricted to traditional products itself.

With the emergence of newer risks in the Indian ecosystem, the new entity can leverage its strength to provide solid risk mitigation and risk transfer capabilities. Some of the speciality risks such as cyber, title, warranties and others still call for more product focus around understanding the risk, communicating it and eventually underwriting the risk.  

In addition to accomplishing its goal of deeper insurance penetration in areas such as health, personal accident and crop, the government may also be looking at this new vehicle to reduce forex spending as a result of better retention capacity of the combined entity. 

Harmonising the different IT platforms into a common one will be a mammoth task. But given that India is home to some of the best tech companies in the world, it can pose only a temporary challenge.

In terms of organisational culture, the integration of people and processes would certainly be onerous. There are more than 50,000 employees spanning the three entities and redundancies can be expected. The government would need to tread cautiously and may have to pursue reskilling/upskilling aggressively.

Various issues related to the retirement liabilities (integration of gratuity, super annulation, provident fund) of employees will also pose a huge challenge, requiring attention of qualified and experienced actuaries.

Managing treasury investments will also be tricky due to the regulatory and governance framework that defines the extent of investments in any investee company. Also, an entity of such mass and volume can sow the seeds of monopolistic market behaviour. The regulator will have to allay such fear of threat towards customer sovereignty. 

Jain says that apart from the prospect of improved valuation and safeguarding investor interest, what probably motivated the government to announce this merger was a combination of the deteriorating financial condition of the three companies, concerns around raising capital from the market and the divestment agenda of the government.

Munich Re Syndicate reveals changes in senior roles

Munich Re Syndicate Limited has made three senior appointments in Munich Re Syndicate Asia to drive strategic growth initiatives in Asia.

The three appointees will report to Celine Ang, head of Asia at Munich Re Syndicate.

Tony Betteridge has been promoted to head of marine. Based in Singapore, his responsibilities include cargo, project cargo, hull and marine liability.

Betteridge brings with him knowledge and practical experience gained from over 40 years in the marine industry, including seafaring, risk engineering and underwriting, of which the last 20 years has been spent in the Asia Pacific region.

Joel Pridmore has been appointed as head of financial lines and business development, responsible for building the Syndicate’s portfolio in financial lines.  Pridmore also has added responsibilities in business development for other classes in Asia.

Pridmore joined Munich Re in Australia in 2014 having previously held various underwriting and portfolio management roles at the likes of AIG, Liberty and Zurich across the specialised financial, investment and professional lines classes of business.

William Song has been appointed to head of Munich Re Syndicate in China and director of underwriting for Munich Re underwriting division at Lloyds Insurance Company (China) Ltd. Song brings with him a career spanning 25 years with his most recent senior positions in China being the head of China mainland team for Aon Benfield, and assistant general manager for Kunlun Insurance Brokers Co. Ltd.

Both Betteridge and Pridmore will be based in Singapore whilst Song is based in Beijing.

FWD Group appoints Ken Lau as MD, Greater China and CEO, Hong Kong & Macau

FWD Group has named Ken Lau as managing director, Greater China, and CEO, Hong Kong & Macau.

Lau boasts over 27 years’ insurance industry experience across the region, and will lead FWD’s Greater China business and drive the delivery of its technology-driven and customer-led strategy.

Lau most recently served as CEO with Union Life Insurance Co. China, where he was managing both the life and general insurance businesses.

During his three-year tenure, Lau oversaw the company’s successful expansion. Before Union Life, he was with Ping An Life for more than a decade and was appointed as president from 2012 to 2014. His roles in his earlier career cover China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for Prudential and AIA.