Synopsis

May 2020 – Synopsis: Companies & Brokers

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Volume 31, Number 5, May 2020

Companies

Hiscox considers capital raise amid COVID-19 crisis and legal threat

Hiscox Ltd notes the recent press speculation regarding a potential capital raise. “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented global economic uncertainty. The Hiscox Board believes the Group has sufficient capital to meet expected liabilities arising as a result of exposures to the pandemic. Hiscox expects the resultant uncertainty arising from the pandemic and consequent capital contraction to result in rates hardening across US wholesale and reinsurance markets. Whilst Hiscox’s capital, liquidity and funding positions remain robust, Hiscox is evaluating possible sources of capital to respond in an appropriate way to these market dynamics, which could include raising new equity. No decision has been made on whether to proceed with a capital raise or with regards to the timing or size of any such capital raise. A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.” IRL comment: This announcement comes at a time when the firm is already making headlines for non-payment of COVID-19 related payouts and facing the threat of legal action from a group of angry policyholders. Hiscox needs some better public relations advice. The firm shouldn’t have let this get out in front of them so much.

Lloyd’s Underwriting Room remains closed until further notice

The Lloyd’s Underwriting Room in London is temporarily closed in line with UK Government advice to avoid all non-essential contact. Lloyd’s is confident that its emergency trading protocols will enable the market to continue trading during the closure and it will review this decision on a weekly basis. IRL comment: The Underwriting Room might not be necessary, as its Placing Platform Limited (PPL) has reached a record high volume of trade with placements soaring. Time will tell…great beautiful building but it must cost a pile to operate.

Sompo to stop writing business at Lloyd’s as it consolidates London presence

Sompo International Holdings Ltd., a Bermuda-based specialty provider of property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, announced that as part of the ongoing transformation of Sompo International, the insurer will be consolidating its London presence into one company market platform. This will mean that, from January 2021, it will no longer write business from Endurance at Lloyd’s (EAL) or Syndicate 5151. All renewals and new business will be written from Endurance Worldwide Insurance Limited.

People

Argo Group names new leadership

Argo Group International Holdings Ltd (Argo), an international underwriter of specialty insurance and reinsurance products, announced the appointment of Thomas A. Bradley to serve as chairman of the board of directors upon the retirement of current board chairman Gary V. Woods, whose term concludes following Argo’s Annual General Meeting which was held on April 16, 2020. Kevin J. Rehnberg will serve as chief executive officer effective immediately and has been nominated to stand for election to the Company’s board of directors at the Company’s annual meeting.

The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI) announced the appointment of Ms Selina Lau as its chief executive with effect February 1, 2020.

Reinsurance Association of America elects 2020-2021 Officers

Kathleen Reardon, Chief Executive Officer of Hamilton Re, Ltd., was elected chair of the Reinsurance Association of America’s Board of Directors at the 52nd Annual Meeting of Members on April 23, 2020. Ms. Reardon succeeded John Welch, Chief Executive, Domestic Markets, AXA XL. Jed Rhoads, President and Chief Underwriting Officer, Markel Global Reinsurance, was elected vice chair, and Brian Young, President and CEO, Odyssey Group Holdings, was elected secretary-treasurer.

Agent & Broker News

Aon plans no layoffs as a result of COVID-19

In lieu of layoffs, Aon announced it will temporarily cut the pay by 50 percent of the company’s named executive officers* in response to the COVID-19. In addition, 70 percent of its global workforce will see a 20 percent reduction in their salaries, while approximately 30 percent of Aon colleagues will see no reduction. Read CEO Greg Case’s letter to employees HERE.

* Named officers: Gregory Case, chief executive officer; Christa Davies, chief financial officer; Eric Andersen, president; John Bruno, chief operating officer, and Tony Goland, the company’s chief innovation officer, have agreed to a temporary 50 percent reduction in their base salary from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, or until another date is determined by the company, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Further, the company’s non-executive directors have agreed to a temporary 50 percent reduction in their cash compensation during the same time period.

One step closer to Chicago: Aon Completes Move of the Jurisdiction of Incorporation for the Firm’s Parent Company

Aon plc announced that it has completed the move of the jurisdiction of incorporation for the firm’s parent company to Ireland. In connection with the transaction, which was effective April 1, 2020, each issued and outstanding Class A ordinary share of Aon plc, the public limited company incorporated in England, was exchanged for one Class A ordinary share of the new Irish-domiciled parent company (also named Aon plc). Class A ordinary shares of the new Irish-domiciled parent company are scheduled to begin trading also on April 1, 2020 on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “AON” (the same symbol under which the UK parent company shares were previously traded).

Howden acquires leading independent Greek broker

Howden Broking Group, an international independent specialty broker, and MATRIX Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers (MATRIX), the number one (re)insurance broker in large Corporate and Industrial Risks in Greece and Cyprus, announced that MATRIX has joined Howden. Founded in 2003, independent broker MATRIX became a broker at Lloyd’s in 2012, and swiftly attained a leading position in the Greek and Cypriot markets, providing reinsurance and specialist insurance broking services. The group has expanded through subsidiaries in Turkey and South Africa and has an increasing number of international clients. This announcement follows a strategic partnership between the two brokers last year, in which Howden supported MATRIX to complete the acquisition of Piraeus Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers S.A., the broking arm of Greece’s largest bank, Piraeus Bank. Dimitris Tsesmetzoglou will continue as CEO of the business, which will rebrand to Howden Matrix later in the year. The business will become part of Howden’s Mediterranean region, led by CEO Danny Sever, who is appointed to the MATRIX board alongside Isabelle Cadignan, Commercial Director, Howden Broking Group and Daniel Whiteside, Head of Marine, RKH Specialty.

EC3 Legal will be known as Birketts EC3 Legal

Effective May 1, 2020 EC3 Legal and Birketts have combined. Birketts are a long established practice, with roots in East Anglia but operating nationally and internationally.  Please see their Annual Review at https://www.birketts.co.uk/about-us. According to David Coupe Senior Partner and the founder of EC3 Legal,  “Birketts are a firm with a culture and ethos that matches our own and it is this above all else that has appealed to us about the proposed merger.  We are confident the combining of our practices will bring many additional advantages to our clients and will enhance the services we offer.” IRL note: Read more about this in the United Kingdom section following.

Willis Towers Watson halts sale plans for insurance broker Miller

Willis Towers Watson has halted plans for a possible sale of its Miller insurance broker, citing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. WTW last month said it was being bought by rival Aon for nearly $30 billion to form the world’s largest insurance broker in a deal that had been more than a year in the making, but the share prices of both have slumped more than 20 percent as the coronavirus crisis has deepened since the March 9 announcement. “Given the current COVID-19 outbreak and associated uncertainty, we have paused our current efforts to explore strategic alternatives for Miller,” a Willis spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “WTW and Miller remain committed to the process and will make an announcement in due course.”

People

Lori Goltermann Named APIW Woman of the Year

The Association of Professional Insurance Women announced Lori Goltermann, chief executive officer of Aon’s U.S. Commercial Risk Solutions and Health Solutions businesses, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the prestigious APIW Insurance Woman of the Year Award. The reception is set to be held in the fall of 2020. APIW president Barbara Bufkin said in an announcement of the award: “We are delighted to present the 2020 APIW Woman of the Year award, our highest honor, to Lori Goltermann, whose highly successful career progression, executive leadership within Aon and our industry overall, her philanthropic commitment and awareness and support of women in gender and pay equality make her an exemplary choice at this important time in history.”

Former Aon Executive Joins Risco/Apiassa

Long time Aon executive Chris Baudouin has joined RISCO/APIASSA as a partner and member of the Executive Board. RISCO (riscoseguros.com) is a 25-year old broking firm led by a highly energetic group of young executives — some of whom previously worked with me at Aon Mexico — with years of experience in the market’s major intermediaries. They combine this acquired expertise with a singular focus on listening to and understanding their clients’ needs in order to design the most effective risk solutions that suit them. In February of this year Risco merged with APIASSA (apiassa.com), a firm with more than 37 years of work in the Mexican market and a top-notch reputation for honest, ethical and highly customer-centric service to clients ranging from middle market to Mexico’s largest construction and manufacturing companies. Chris can be reached at: cbaudouin@riscoseguros.com and Tel: +52 5545 259 726

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