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Berkshire exits Zurich legacy book auction; Axa, ING in partnership

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Berkshire exits Zurich legacy book auction; Axa, ING in partnership

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. exited the bidding process for Zurich Insurance Group AG's £1.6 billion U.K. employers' liability legacy book in the early stages, but Enstar Group Ltd. and Catalina Holdings (Bermuda) Ltd. are still in the fray, the Insurance Insider reported.

In the U.S., Pennsylvania-based Donegal Mutual Insurance Co. and Donegal Group Inc. agreed to off-load Donegal Financial Services Corp., the bank holding company they jointly own, and Union Community Bank to Northwest Bancshares Inc. for approximately $85 million in cash and stock. The deal marks Donegal's exit from banking seven years after expanding through M&A.

Patrick Donnelly, president and CEO of JLT Specialty USA, told S&P Global Market Intelligence in a recent interview that underwriters and brokers are more frequently turning to insurance technology services to supplement their clients' or customers' risk management.

Massachusetts-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc. President and CEO Eric Schultz resigned with immediate effect, saying he "recently exhibited behavior that was inconsistent" with his "personal core values and the company's core values and code of conduct."

The California Department of Insurance took legal action against Accordia Life & Annuity Co. and Athene Annuity & Life Co. for allegedly failing to properly service more than 50,000 policies issued to consumers in the state.

In the insurance-linked securities market, Zurich Insurance Co. Ltd. closed a CHF146 million deal that marks just the second operational risk catastrophe bond, Artemis reported. Zurich also arranged the first, in 2016, covering operational risk for Credit Suisse, and Artemis said the new issuance is likely to be on behalf of the Swiss bank as well.

French insurer Axa and Netherlands-based ING Groep NV entered into a bancassurance partnership. As part of the deal, AXA will provide property & casualty, health and protection insurance solutions to ING customers in France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria and Australia.

A Lloyd's of London spokesman confirmed to S&P Global Market Intelligence that the insurance market had asked unprofitable syndicates to submit short-term and three-year plans and all syndicates to submit plans for the worst-performing 10% of their business. He did not, however, confirm that Jon Hancock, Lloyd's performance management director, had said troubled syndicates would face closure, as reported elsewhere.

U.K.-based Brit Ltd. appointed Michael Gould COO, subject to regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, regulators are expected to review, and possibly suspend, a directive requiring foreign insurers to cut their stakes in their local insurance units to no more than 70%, Reuters reported. Insurers including Zurich, Singapore's Great Eastern Holdings Ltd. and U.K.-based Prudential PLC have reportedly looked to off-load portions of their stakes in Malaysian units.

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. announced the acquisitions of a pair of Australian companies.

China's insurance regulator tightened actuarial reporting rules for life insurers with respect to liability management.

And in India, Markel International Ltd. was granted a license to write reinsurance business in the country.

Featured news

J&J sells Lifescan for $2.1B; Merck's Keytruda gets FDA nod for cervical cancer: Johnson & Johnson agreed to sell its LifeScan diabetes care business to Platinum Equity for $2.1 billion, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Merck & Co.'s Keytruda for treating certain cervical cancer patients.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: China eases foreign investment rules; Malaysia to review insurer ownership rules

Europe: SocGen said to sell Belgian, Polish arms; Czech banks face tougher capital rules

Middle East & Africa: Abraaj to file for provisional liquidation; Swiss Re snaps up stake in Britam

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng lost 1.22% to 30,725.15, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.38% to 22,966.38.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.45% to 7,738.39, and the Euronext 100 increased 0.43% to 1,066.63.

On the macro front

The MBA Mortgage Applications, PPI-FD, Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, EIA Petroleum Status, FOMC Meeting Announcement, FOMC Forecasts and Fed Chair Press Conference are due out today.

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