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Weekly news through April 1

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Weekly news through April 1

SNL Financial offers ourtop picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week.

Industry trends

* Willis Re Inc.said that rates fell at the April 1 renewalsfor the fourth consecutive year despite signs of an increase in demand for reinsurance.Willis Re CEO John Cavanagh said increased regulation and shareholder pressure toimprove ROEs are two clear drivers for the reversal in reinsurance buying strategies.

* Global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-madedisasters in 2015 totaled$37 billion, well below the $62 billion average of the previous 10 years, accordingto Swiss Re Ltd.'s latestsigma study.

* The latest financial services survey by the Confederation of British Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopersshowed that U.K. general insurers might see a drop in overall profitability in thenext three months; profit growth at life insurers could slow down, too. Increasingcosts and low returns on investments were cited as key reasons.

* Accident avoidance technologies applied in cars could boostinsurers' profits in the medium term as many insurers are not expected to lowertheir pricing right away and will instead wait to see if the decline in the frequencyof accidents is lasting, accordingto Moody's.

Buyers and sellers

* Allianz Groupis considering sellinga €4.5 billion portfolio of life insurance policies in Italy amid pressure stemmingfrom low interest rates, Reuters reported. Goldman Sachs was chosen to run the saleprocess of the closed life policies, which attracted interest from U.K. privateequity firm Cinven Ltd.

* Catalina Holdings(Bermuda) Ltd. unit Catalina Holdings UK Ltd. reached an to acquire AGF InsuranceLtd. from Allianz SE unitAGF Holdings (UK) Ltd. Catalina will use available resources to fund the acquisitionof AGF Insurance, which writes predominantly direct employers and public liabilityinsurance in the U.K.

* Randall &Quilter Investment Holdings Ltd.'s Randall & Quilter II HoldingsLtd. acquired Rank InsuranceLtd., a Guernsey captive company in run-off, from Rank Overseas Holdings Ltd. Thecompany already obtained regulatory approval for the deal.

* PJSC CommercialBank Ural FD sold a 16.09% stake in Adonis, an insurance company basedin the Russian city of Perm. Details of the transactionwere not disclosed.

Management moves

* Bupaappointed Joy Linton acting CFO, effective May 1. Pending regulatory approval, Lintonwill succeed Evelyn Bourke,who will become acting CEO as of April 4. Linton currently serves as general managerfor health services for Bupa UK.

* Sean Casey is resigningas managing director of Bank of Ireland'sNew Ireland Assurance Co. Plc,according to The Irish Times. Casey hasheld the position since 2010.

* AmWINS GroupInc. reportedly appointedDarren Nightingale CEO of Unicorn Underwriting, the company's London-based managinggeneral agent. Nightingale was managing director of Lloyd's of London broker Thompson Heath & Bond's LondonMarket division. His appointment is subject to approval from the U.K. FinancialConduct Authority.

Game plans

* Munich Re,Swiss Re, Hannover Reand SCOR SE are reportedlyamong a number of global insurance and reinsurance companies that are looking tolaunch operations in India.

* Zurich InsuranceGroup Ltd. Chairman Tom de Swaan said his company is considering making selective acquisitionsin interesting markets as part of efforts to optimize its geographic coverage. Speakingat the firm's annual general meeting, Swaan said the process of withdrawing frommarkets that are unprofitable and have low growth potential will continue this year.

* Unicorn Underwriting is set to write motor fleet business, with the initial focus to beon specialist motor fleet business. AmWINS secured backing from unit for the undertaking.

Bottom line

* Wüstenrot &Württembergische AG posted a full-year 2015 IFRS consolidated of €274.3 million, comparedto €242.0 million earned in 2014. The bank said it does not expect to see in 2016a repeat of the "record" income achieved in 2015.

* Chesnara Plcreported a total comprehensive incomeof £39.6 million for 2015, compared to £17.7 million in 2014. The company recommendedthat a final dividend of 12.33 pence per share be paid for 2015. The total dividendfor the year will be 18.94 pence per share, up from 18.40 pence per share in 2014.

In other news

* Partnership AssuranceGroup Plc and Just RetirementGroup Plc secured shareholder approvalsfor the action plans related to their proposed all-share merger.

* Service provider Voogd & Voogd agreed to establish a new company that would take care ofthe underwriting, administrative changes and claims handling of personal generalinsurance products for Delta LloydNV. The new entity, which could be launched in 2017, is expected tohave a positive impact on the combined ratio of Delta Lloyd's personal general business.

* AEGON NVlaunched the second €200 million trancheof its €400 million share buyback program. The shares will be repurchased at a maximumof the daily volume-weighted average price. The deal is due to complete by May 31.

* Lancashire HoldingsLtd. and unit LancashireInsurance Co. Ltd. entered into a new $300 million five-year letterof credit and revolving credit facility.Lancashire Holdings will use the facility to support obligations under reinsuranceliabilities of the Bermuda-based subsidiary.

Featured during the weekon SNL

Crédit Agricoleoutlines bullish growth plans for insurance business: Crédit Agricole'snew plan relies on an expansion of its insurance business into unit-linked products.