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Berkshire divests Applied Underwriters; Axis cuts coal; Maiden Re to Vermont


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Berkshire divests Applied Underwriters; Axis cuts coal; Maiden Re to Vermont

Founder Steve Menzies has acquired Applied Underwriters Inc. and subsidiary North American Casualty Co. in a transaction valued at $920 million. The transaction included the buyout of all other shareholders, including the 81% stake held by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. In September, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that Berkshire Hathaway had agreed to sell its stake in a group of companies led by Applied Underwriters for $737.1 million.

Beginning in 2020, UnitedHealth Group Inc. plans will not be made available by Verizon Communications Inc. to retired workers in the telecommunications company's western region, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The account was transferred to Aetna Inc. It was also disclosed that the Alabama Public Education Employees Health Insurance Plan is dropping UnitedHealth and moving retirees to Humana Inc.'s Medicare Advantage plans.

Maiden Holdings Ltd.'s principal operating subsidiary, Maiden Reinsurance Ltd., is redomesticating to Vermont from Bermuda. The move, along with other actions taken to de-risk Maiden Holdings' balance sheet, is expected to strengthen the company's capital position and solvency ratios.

ABRY Partners LLC has brought in J.P. Morgan as an adviser to consult on the potential sale of its majority stake in insurance broker Hilb Group LLC, The Insurance Insider reported. The formal sales process has begun and first-round bids for the target company will begin shortly, according to the report.

Progressive Corp.'s net income attributable to the company declined to $841.7 million in the third quarter from $928.4 million a year earlier. The company booked total pretax net realized gains on securities of $65.4 million, much lower than the $182.1 million recorded in the third quarter of 2018.

RLI Corp. reported third-quarter operating earnings of $25.9 million, or 57 cents per share, up from $20.8 million, or 46 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. is joining a number of its peers in reducing its exposure to fossil fuels by implementing a new thermal coal and oil sands underwriting and investment policy. Under the policy, which is effective Jan. 1, 2020, the company will not provide new insurance or facultative reinsurance for the construction of new thermal coal plants or mines, or for oil sands extraction and pipeline projects.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd. agreed to sell its 26% interest in SBI General Insurance Co. Ltd. through two transactions. Napean Opportunities LLP, part of PremjiInvest, will buy a 16.01% interest and an affiliate of Warburg Pincus LLC will acquire a 9.99% interest in SBI General Insurance. Total consideration amounts to more than A$640 million based on the current exchange rate, according to IAG.

United Insurance Holdings Corp. projects about $46 million of net retained catastrophe losses, pretax, for the third quarter.

CNA Financial Corp. appointed Mark James chief risk and reinsurance officer. Additionally, CNA Chief Risk Officer Al Miralles was named president of CNA Warranty.

About 75% of U.K. pension schemes have had cyber training or plan to have it in the next 12 months, according to an Aon PLC survey. Also, about 66% of schemes currently have no documentation of cyber risks, mitigations and security policies and procedures.

Companies with female CFOs outperformed their sector average while those with a woman in the CEO role saw stock price momentum outpace companies run by men, a new study by Quantamental Research found.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Insurance M&A valuations nearing cyclical highs, RBC investment banker says: Niche specialty lines are seeing more activity than the rate-sensitive businesses in the life and annuity sector.

Typhoon Hagibis claims bill could be comparable to 2018's Jebi: Insured losses from the storm that hit Japan on Oct. 12 could eclipse those of Faxai in September, and flood claims will dominate, according to loss adjusters and risk modelers. Comparisons are being drawn to the $16 billion estimated tally for Jebi.

Wall Street now 'inundated' with direct listing inquiries: As major U.S. venture capital firms push companies to consider direct listings, the Wall Street institutions that have led private companies into the public markets for decades are seeing a flood of questions about the IPO alternative.

In hunt for fintech unicorns, venture capital looks to Latin America: Venture capital inflows quadrupled between 2016 and 2018 in the region with the fintech sector as the leading destination for investments, which continued to pick up their pace in 2019.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: China loosens interbank bond rules; Macquarie faces lawsuit in Germany

Europe: Bank of China could bid for Goodbody; RBS boosts Brexit fund; Basel progress

Middle East & Africa: Afreximbank confirms $250M London IPO; Qatar Islamic Bank's Q3 profit up YOY

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng jumped 0.69% to 26,848.49, while the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.09% to 22,451.86.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.58% to 7,209.21, and the Euronext 100 decreased -0.60% to 1,098.22.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

On the macro front

The housing starts report, the jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey, the industrial production report, the EIA natural gas report, the EIA petroleum status report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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