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CEO sees more deals like Lincoln arrangement in Athene's future

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CEO sees more deals like Lincoln arrangement in Athene's future

After inking a reinsurance agreement with Lincoln National Corp., Athene Holding Ltd. Chairman and CEO Jim Belardi expects to find more partners to grow its business in the U.S. and Europe.

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Jim Belardi

Athene Holding Ltd.

Athene has made a number of reinsurance deals with U.S. fixed and indexed annuity players, and announced Aug. 1 it had entered into a partnership with Lincoln. Belardi called the arrangement a "win-win" for both companies, and said he anticipates linking up with more companies for its flow reinsurance business.

The Lincoln deal "expands our distribution ... and they piggyback on us," Belardi said. Lincoln CEO Dennis Glass said on a recent call that the transaction will help his company improve capital efficiency and boost sales and return on equity.

Belardi added that Athene got the U.S. infrastructure it needed in fixed and indexed annuities when it purchased Aviva USA Corp. in 2013. Athene USA Corp. is now one of the top two indexed-annuity providers in the U.S.

In addition to pursuing M&A and growing organically through its retail and institutional channels, Athene would also grow its business by reinsuring what it wants out of potential partners, according to Belardi. Athene has a marketing arm that is seeking and reviewing potential deals, but the company will be careful with whom it partners, and is only looking for high-quality books of business, the CEO said.

In a way that is similar to how the Aviva purchase created an infrastructure platform in the U.S., Aegon Ireland plc's acquisition bid by AGER Bermuda Holding Ltd. is a big opportunity in the retirement and savings markets in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, according to Belardi. Apollo Investment Corp.'s financial backing of AGER has helped bolster the company's coffers as it has $2.5 billion to pursue deals that generate net investment spread, Belardi said.

AGER is the top-level holding company of Athene's Germany operations.