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The Conversation
Monday
Aug312009

Int. Insurance links 1.9.09

RSA Hires Advisers for $1 Billion Rights Issue, Telegraph Says

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- RSA Insurance Group Plc is considering a rights offer to raise $1 billion, the Sunday Telegraph said, citing unidentified people close to the company. RSA has appointed JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. to prepare an offer, the newspaper said. RSA spokesman Jon Sellors in London declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News today.

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AIG May Get Less Than $2 Billion in Taiwan Unit Sale (Update1)

Bidders for American International Group Inc.’s Taiwanese life insurance unit may offer less than the U.S. insurer’s $2 billion target, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

A group led by Primus Financial Holdings Ltd. may bid between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion for AIG’s Taipei-based Nan Shan Life Insurance Co. today, one of the people said, declining to be identified. Fubon Financial Holding Co. plans a $1 billion offer, said another of the people. Cathay Financial Holding Co. may bid at least $1.5 billion, a third person familiar with the situation said.

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Aviva Offers Insurance Cover To Business Super Members

Aviva has announced its offering of automatic life insurance coverage to over 18,000 business super members - reported Financial Standard.

The business super members require $1,500 in superannuation savings to receive the automatic cover. Medical history is not needed to avail the cover. Around 9,700 members will be getting death and total and permanent disability to age 65, and 8,300 members will receive death cover only.

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HSBC Forays Into China's Life Insurance Market

HSBC Life Insurance Company, a joint venture of HSBC and Beijing-based National Trust, has launched its operations in Shanghai – reported Xinhuanet. It has been reported that in 2008, the total life insuance premiums in China was up by 48% compared to the previous year, second only to Japan in Asia.

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AEGON Sony Life Insurance Gets Final Approval To Launch Business In Japan

The life insurance joint venture between AEGON and Sony Life has obtained final approval from the Japanese regulatory authorities to launch business operations later this year. The 50-50 joint venture, AEGON Sony Life Insurance (ASLI), is expected to initially focus on the sale of variable annuity products which will be distributed through Sony Life's 'Lifeplanner' sales employees, as well as banks and other financial institutions.

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Co-operative Insurance Launches Sector Specific Business Insurance

The Co-operative Insurance has launched a new range of sector-specific, business insurance products – reported Advertisertalk.com. The company has said that the insurance products are targeted at primarily small businesses that account for 74% of all businesses in the UK.

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EVS Provides Security To RBC's Online Insurance Program

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has selected Electronic Verification Systems (EVS as the primary identity verification provider for its online insurance program. Royal Bank of Canada, a financial services and insurance provider, is a new addition to EVS's existing list of identity verification clients.

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AIG's Nan Shan Life Receives Low Bids

AIG's plan to sell its Taiwan unit has taken a blow as three bidders offered less than $1.5 billion each for the unit, too less than the $2 billion expected by AIG - reported Reuters.

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RPT-IPO VIEW-Surge of filings signals busy autumn for IPOs (general US)

"Nobody buys an IPO by looking in the rearview mirror -- they are looking out at the next one to three years," he said. Adding to the tally of potential IPOs in the fall, a number of companies have recently updated existing filings, significantly changing the amounts of money they are applying to raise.

For example, Rio Tinto Plc's (RIO.L) (RIO.AX) U.S. coal business, Cloud Peak Energy Inc, filed a new prospectus in early August, doubling the planned size of its IPO to $500 million.

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UPDATE 1-AIG weighing many options for ILFC -sources

NEW YORK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - American International Group Inc (AIG.N) and Steven Udvar-Hazy, head of its International Lease Finance Corp unit, are weighing several options for the aircraft leasing business, including breaking up the company, two sources familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

The alternatives include the possibility of carving out a new, independent company, the sources said, but added that discussions were in preliminary stages and nothing had been determined yet.

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CNinsure Q2 Net Revenue Up 33%

CNinsure, an independent insurance intermediary company operating in China, has revealed its unaudited financial results for the second quarter and the first half ended June 30, 2009.

The company posted total net revenue of $41.8m for the second quarter of 2009, representing an increase of 33% from the corresponding period of 2008. Income from operations is $12.1m, representing an increase of 16.5% from same period of previous year.

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Young motorists unaware that insurance is legally required (UK)

One in ten young drivers aren’t aware that car insurance is a legal requirement, while one in five are taking to the roads without insurance. A quarter of a million 17-20 year olds are getting behind the wheel without insurance cover, according to new figures from the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB).

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JSW Insurance offers dedicated letting agent package

JSW Insurance Services Ltd (JSW) has opened a new division (Landlordsure.co.uk) to cater solely to the needs of letting agents and landlords including a complete insurance package created for letting agents.

The division consists of all the insurance aspects letting agents need, in one location.

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Omega posts drop in profits

Omega Insurance Holdings this week posted a 5.5% drop in first half profits. The Bermuda-based insurer reported net income down to $20.6 million from $21.8 million in the year ago period.

The fall in profit came despite a rise in gross premiums written, up 1% from $185.9 million to $187.5 million, and an 1.2 percentage point improvement in combined ratio, down to 82.5%.

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"XL Teams Seek to Get an Early Jump on Catastrophes"

For XL Insurance, one of the lessons of Hurricane Katrina was the importance of getting an early sense of the likely extent of developing catastrophes.

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Monday
Aug312009

Int. Insurance links 31.8.09

AIG Posts First Profit Since 2007

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) reported its first quarterly profit since the third quarter of 2007, reflecting stabilization in some of its businesses and positive valuation changes.

AIG, which received $180 billion of federal bailouts, said it also achieved several important milestones in its restructuring program.

For the second quarter ended June 30, 2009, AIG reported net income of $1.8 billion, compared to a net loss of $5.4 billion or
in the second quarter of 2008. Second quarter 2009 adjusted net
income was $2.0 billion, compared to an adjusted net loss of $1.3 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

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Insurers in Crosshairs of U.S. Health Care Reformers

The debate over reforming the U.S. health care system has zeroed in on one main target: insurance companies.

Democrats and the Obama administration plan to spend August battling to win popular support to expand health care coverage as the insurance industry mobilizes an advertising campaign to criticize the cost and scope of a major overhaul. Insurance companies have become the bull's eye for reform advocates looking for a target for ballooning U.S. health care costs.

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Seeking to Boost Agency Business, Progressive Offers Web Site Help

Progressive Insurance wants to ramp up its agency business and plans to turn to a source of strength for its direct sales channel - the Internet - to help make that happen.

As Glenn M. Renwick, president and chief executive officer at Progressive, said in a conference call with investors on Aug. 12: "Regardless of how you choose to buy, we are all aware ... that the vast majority of people start their insurance shopping experience on the Internet."

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Safeco Insurance Names Two New Central Region Executives

Seattle-based Safeco Insurance, a Liberty Mutual Agency Markets company, announced the appointment of two key additions to its management team in the Central Region.

Scott McPherson has joined the company as director of marketing for the Central Region. He is responsible for marketing, communications and agency management best practices for the region. He started his insurance career with Safeco back in 1992, holding positions in claims and field underwriting.

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Concannon To Head The Hartford's P/C Sales & Distribution Organization

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: HIG) announced today that the company has promoted

Michael Concannon, 47, has been promoted to executive vice president of The Hartford Financial Services Group's property and casualty sales and distribution organization, effective immediately. Concannon will report directly to Juan Andrade, president and chief operating officer of The Hartford's property and casualty operations.

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Wednesday
Aug262009

Int. Insurance links 26.8 (after holiday bumper edition)

Purchase of Friends Provident (link this in with the general consolidation of the insurance industry)

Friends Provident ready to submit to Cowdery's Resolution

Friends Provident is poised to accept a £1.86bn takeover offer by Clive Cowdery's Resolution, with the aim of announcing a deal alongside its interim results tomorrow.

The insurer, which aggressively opposed earlier offers from Resolution, was forced back to the negotiating table by large shareholders with investments in both firms who were keen to see a deal done. One analyst said the Friends Provident management had "misjudged" the mood among its own investors by refusing to countenance a deal.

Friends Provident accepts £1.86bn takeover by Resolution

Friends Provident has accepted a £1.86bn takeover offer from Clive Cowdery's Resolution, ending its initial opposition to the deal.

The insurer was forced back to the negotiating table by large shareholders with investments in both firms who were keen to see the takeover. One analyst said the Friends Provident management had "misjudged" the mood among its own investors by refusing to countenance a deal.

Cowdery: Resolution is already in talks to follow up Friends deal

Clive Cowdery, the insurance tycoon, said takeover talks were ongoing with a number of other firms after securing a £1.86bn deal to acquire Friends Provident through his bid vehicle Resolution.

The Friends Provident deal, announced as the stockmarket opened, provides Cowdery with the springboard for a planned series of three or four acquisitions in the life assurance sector, with a total value of up to £5bn. The aim is to float the combined business off as a separate company within three or four years.

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Prudential raises dividend as chief executive bows out

Mark Tucker bowed out of Prudential today with a dividend hike that bucked the trend set by rivals for lower interim payouts.

The Pru's chief executive, who leaves next month, is handing over to Tidjane Thiam, the current finance director, who committed himself to steering the same steady course as his predecessor once he takes the helm at the insurer.

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Rising wave of piracy sends shipowners' costs soaring

Businesses will have to pay a rising "piracy tax" to maintain global trading networks, according to the Lloyd's of London insurance market.

A report commissioned by Lloyd's found Somali pirates are beating the credit crunch, with rogue crews seizing more than 60 vessels and earning some $80m (£48m) in ransoms.

Separate figures from the International Maritime Bureau showed a doubling of piracy attacks in the first six months of this year, with virtually all the increase due to Somali pirates.

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Aviva sees profits rise but slashes dividend

Aggressive cost-cutting at Aviva coupled with strong overseas sales boosted the insurer's profits in the first six months of the year, but not enough to convince the company to maintain its dividend payment.

Aviva said today it remained cautious about the outlook despite a profit of £747m after tax in the first half of 2009, up from an £84m loss a year ago.

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China Life eyes stakes in AIA and Ag Bank

BEIJING/HONG KONG, Aug 26 - China Life Insurance, the country’s top life insurer, said it is studying possible investments involving IPO candidates Agricultural Bank of China and AIA, aiming to improve its returns.

One of the potential deals could see China Life invest in AIA, the Asia unit of bailed-out US insurance giant American International Group, as part of its broader interest in branded firms.

see also; UPDATE 2-China Life studies investments in AIA, Ag Bank

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Admiral first-half profit up 5%

Admiral has posted pre-tax profit of £105.3 million for the first six months of the year, up 5% on the same period of 2008.

Profit from UK car insurance business soared 18% to £101.2 million and UK turnover leapt 17% to £540.1 million.

The group, which operates the confused.com website, said customer numbers rose 18% to 1.92 million.

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American Community Introduces Small Group Health Plan in Nebraska

American Community Mutual Insurance Company, headquartered in Livonia, Mich., is now offering Latitude, a small group product that allows employers to customize a health plan, to employers in Nebraska.

Sold through independent insurance agents, the new PPO plan for employer groups with 2-50 employees is available in Nebraska for a coverage effective date beginning Sept. 1, 2009. With the addition of Nebraska, the product is available in eight states.

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Greek insurers see limited impact from wildfires

ATHENS, Greece (Reuters)—Greek insurers said on Tuesday they expected claims of property losses from the wildfires that swept through the Athens suburbs to be small, though it was too early to give an accurate figure.

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Willis Names Vic Krauze President of its North American Business

New York, NY, August 25, 2009 Willis Group Holdings (NYSE: WSH), the global insurance broker, today named Vic Krauze President of Willis HRH, its North American retail business.Krauze will retain his current responsibilities as Chief Operating Officer of Willis HRH and will continue to report to Don Bailey, Chairman and CEO of Willis HRH. As President and COO, Krauze will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business and establishing more consistent business-wide processes and systems for managing growth at the regional level. The National Partners who head each of Willis HRH’s seven regions will now report to Krauze.

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MMA Insurance Names New Claims Director

UK-based MMA Insurance has appointed Bob Perry as claims director. He will report to Garry Fearn, chief executive of MMA.

Mr Perry will be responsible for all claims functions within MMA including motor, property and casualty claims, anti financial crime and claims supplier management. He joined MMA in May 2009 as interim claims director.

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Wells Fargo Appoints New Managing Director

Wells Fargo Insurance Services of Pennsylvania, a bank-owned insurance brokerage in the US, has appointed James Voltz as managing director, for its Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania Office. In his new role, Mr. Voltz is responsible for operations, carrier relationships, sales, and placement of all commercial and private risk practices.

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Aviva Extends Its Health Insurance Product

Aviva has extended its private health insurance that can now be availed by its individual and small group customers - reported Moneynews.

Earlier, the insurance, which specialises in back and neck problems, was available to Aviva staff and corporate customers only.

Mark Sharpe, clinical development manager at Aviva's UK Health business, has stated that these musculo-skeletal conditions are often the cause of insurance claims and felt Back-Up takes a sensible approach to the issue.

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XL Insurance Names Regional Energy Underwriting Manager

XL Insurance, the global insurance operations of XL Capital, has appointed Peter Bitterlin as regional underwriting manager for Energy.

Mr. Bitterlin in his new role will be heading XL Insurance's onshore energy team for Europe and Asia Pacific, and will be based in London.

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Gulf Bank, Enaya Launch Family Travel Insurance Policy

Enaya Insurance has partnered with Kuwait-based Gulf Bank to launch TravelSmart, a new worldwide family travel insurance policy targeting Gulf bank customers - reported AME Info.

Reportedly, annual premium for worldwide family coverage is KD37 and covers the insured, spouse and their dependant children under the age of 21. The policy insures customers of age up to 75 without any additional premium payments.

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UPDATE 1-Delphi Financial offering priced at $21; shares slump

* Offering priced at 10 pct discount to Monday's close * Says to use proceeds for general corporate purposes 

* Shares down as much as 10 pct

Aug 18 (Reuters) - Delphi Financial Group Inc (DFG.N) said its previously announced offering of 3 million class A common shares were priced at $21 a share, a 10 percent discount to their Monday's closing price, sending its shares down as much as 10 percent.

This is the employee-insurance provider's second offering at a 10 percent discount this year. In April, the company offered 10 million shares at $17.50 a share. [ID:nBNG482832]

 

 

Friday
Aug072009

Int. Insurance Links 5.8.08

Swiss Re disappoints with SFr381m loss

Swiss Re disappointed investors on Wednesday with a surprise loss in the second quarter, as solid earnings in insurance underwriting were overshadowed by continued losses and writedowns on its massive investment portfolio.

The SFr381m ($548m) loss for the period compared with a SFr564m profit last year and better-than-expected earnings at arch rival Munich Re, which reported second-quarter earnings this week.

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Axa ‘prepared’ to withstand market downturns

PARIS, Aug 5 - AXA, Europe’s second-biggest insurer by market capitalisation, posted a smaller-than-expected decline in first-half earnings and said it was ready to face any further downturn in the market. Net income fell 39 per cent to €1.32bn ($1.9bn) in the first six months of the year, Axa said on Wednesday. This compared with the average of estimates from 10 analysts in a Reuters poll of €896m.

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Marsh & McLennan posts loss after charge

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Insurer Marsh & McLennan said on Wednesday that it swung to a loss in the second quarter, posting a deficit of $193 million, or 37 cents a share, compared to a year-ago $65 million, or 12 cents a share profit. The latest period's results include non-cash, goodwill impairment charge of $315 million, or 60 cents a share. Absent the charge, the company earned 33 cents a share in the second quarter, a penny ahead of the 32 cents a share average estimate in a Thomson Reuters poll of analysts. Second quarter revenue fell to $2.63 billion, from $3.03 billion last year.

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Is Now a Good Time to Invest in Insurance Companies?

There are not many companies whose fortunes are as closely tied to the stock market as those in the insurance industry. When the market is climbing, insurers will often soar beyond the market, and will fall harder when the market declines. With the recent uptick in the market, is now a good time to consider insurance companies?

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Insurer Axa to cut 350 jobs

Axa UK is cutting 350 jobs as part of a strategic review of its life and pensions business. The move was condemned by the Unite union. The insurer's chief executive, Nicolas Moreau, said he was trying to ensure the company emerged from the recession "fitter and stronger". Axa has raised its cost-savings target from £80m to £150m over the next three years in the UK, with the bulk of the savings to come from its life operations.

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Standard Life profits slump 35%

Standard Life reported a 35% drop in its half-year profit , despite inflows of £3bn to its fund management arm, much of it from overseas investors. The life insurer blamed weaker sales of personal pensions in the UK and falling asset values, and said market conditions remained "challenging". In the first half of 2009 sales dropped 17%, reflecting a decline in the value of new customers' pension pots, as well as its decision to withdraw from less profitable product lines.

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The Hartford To Provide Group Life, Disability Coverage

The Hartford Financial Services Group, an insurance-based financial services company, is going to offer group life insurance, short-and-long-term disability, and accidental death and dismemberment coverage for the employees of the State of Arizona.

Tuesday
Aug042009

Int. Insurance links 4.8.09

Munich RE (Q2 results)

FT

Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance group, showed stronger profits in the second quarter in spite of a rise in claims arising from the financial crisis.

Credit reinsurance claims were among “an accumulation of major losses” from what Munich Re described as “man-made events” in the second quarter, a contrast to a period with comparatively few large claims from natural catastrophes.

Bloomberg

Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer, said second-quarter profit rose 14 percent on higher investment income and the sale of a stake in a U.K. insurer. Net income climbed to 691 million euros ($994 million), or 3.54 euros a share, from 606 million euros, or 2.97 euros, a year earlier, Munich Re said today. That beat the 618 million- euro median estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Munich Re, led by Chief Executive Officer Nikolaus von Bomhard, 53, in March scrapped a profit target of 18 euros a share by 2010 as investment returns were hit by the financial crisis. While it didn’t give a target for full-year profit today, net investment income rose 38 percent to 2.19 billion euros, beating analysts’ median estimate of 1.69 billion euros.

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Legal & General’s Operating Profit Beats Estimates

Legal & General Group Plc, the second-biggest U.K insurer by assets, said operating profit rose 12 percent, beating analyst estimates, as the company strengthened its balance sheet and cut costs.

Operating profit on a European Embedded Value basis rose to 657 million pounds ($1.11 billion), from 589 million pounds a year earlier, the London-based insurer said in a statement. That beat the 467 million-pound estimate of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Legal & General’s net loss from ordinary activities widened to 71 million pounds from 14 million pounds.

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Axa May Say First-Half Profit Fell on Life Insurance Business

Axa SA, Europe’s second-biggest insurer, may say first-half profit dropped on lower earnings at its life and savings business.

Net income probably fell 63 percent to 801 million euros ($1.15 billion) from 2.16 billion euros a year earlier, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Underlying profit may have dropped 32 percent to 1.88 billion euros as earnings from life and savings, Axa’s biggest division, fell 34 percent, according to the analysts.

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L&G posts £143m loss

Legal & General has posted a loss for the first half of 2009 and almost halved its dividend as it hoards cash to see out the recession. The insurance firm said this morning it had made a pre-tax loss of £143m in the six months to 30 June, compared with a loss of £44m a year ago. The decline was partly due to large losses in various investment markets during the financial crisis, and an increase in credit default provisions.

Paying a dividend of 1.11p per share, down from 2.01p last year, will cost L&G £65m, leaving it with capital reserves of £1.9bn.

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Global warming pushes up building insurance costs

Householders face higher building insurance premiums after a sharp increase in property damage blamed on climate change. A rise in insurance claims has been caused by flash floods and storms in areas of Britain previously immune to severe weather events.

The AA, which produces an insurance premium index monitoring costs, reports a 15% rise in claims in the first six months of 2009 over the same period in 2008 "in the number and cost of payments for buildings damaged by flash floods and storms in areas with little or no previous record of such claims."

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Report calls for insurance tsar to educate public on financial risks

A far-reaching report on the future of Britain's insurance industry proposes the creation of a financial educational commissioner, or tsar, to alert the public about the need to save for their retirement, and insure against illness or unemployment.

The 65-page document paints a gloomy picture of a nation that saves too little, but which also faces new challenges as people live longer, and extreme weather becomes more frequent.

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AIG's New Boss: Robert Benmosche

American International Group's (AIG) newly named CEO, Robert H. Benmosche, has lots of experience making deals and overseeing complex organizations. He's going to need it. Benmosche's selection lands him in one of the hottest seats in business, as AIG struggles to gain its footing after its near-bankruptcy and government rescue last fall.

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Everest Re 2Q profit jumps 78 percent

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) -- Reinsurance company Everest Re Group Ltd. said Monday its second quarter net income jumped 78 percent as it increased its gross written premiums and a rebound in the stock market helped its portfolio.

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FPIC Insurance To Acquire Advocate, MD Financial Group

FPIC Insurance Group (FPIC) and Advocate, MD Financial Group, have signed an agreement under which FPIC’s subsidiary, First Professionals Insurance will acquire Advocate, MD and its subsidiaries in an all cash transaction.

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QBE Looking For Major Acquisitions In Australia

QBE Insurance Group is waiting for the right opportunity to strike mega deals in Australia, to avoid being margenlised by the growing importance of IAG, Suncorp and Allianz - reported Bloomberg.

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