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South African insurer rejects extortion attempt; earthquake hits Japan

South Africa-based Liberty Holdings Ltd. said it rejected an extortion attempt by a hacker who broke into an email server June 14, removed messages and attachments, then demanded "compensation" for alerting the company to "potential vulnerabilities," according to media reports. CEO David Munro said there was no evidence that its customers suffered any financial loss. Shares in the company were down 4% as of early afternoon.

In Japan, a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the northern area of the Osaka Prefecture at around 7:58 a.m. local time June 18, leading to three deaths and 200 injuries. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 13 kilometers, helping to limit damage to buildings, Artemis reported.

Switzerland-based Canopius AG and two unnamed entities are in talks with Enstar Group Ltd. and Stone Point Capital LLC for the possible acquisition of specialty insurer StarStone, The Insurance Insider reported.

Plaintiffs of a lawsuit claiming that Markel Corp. engaged in fraudulent behavior related to its $183 million acquisition of Aspen Holdings Inc., now known as Markel Aspen Inc., are asking for $80 million from the Virginia-based insurer, The Insurance Insider reported.

Insurance technology company Lemonade Inc. sued German insurance company One Versicherung AG and parent entity wefox Group for allegedly reverse engineering its app and website. The lawsuit claims that the defendants, which include wefox Group founder Julian Teicke, accessed the Lemonade app and website to copy and extract the content in order to create their ONE app.

California-based Molina Healthcare Inc. said Molina Healthcare of Florida Inc. was awarded Medicaid managed care contracts by Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration for two regions in South Florida. In turn, it withdrew its complaints regarding the award of contracts in Florida's other nine regions, having protested the awards in all 11 regions in May.

Grahame Chilton will step down as CEO of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.'s U.K.-based brokerage and underwriting division later this year. Subject to regulatory approval, Simon Matson, head of the company's London market and Alesco businesses, will succeed Chilton as CEO.

Russian National Reinsurance Co. JSC has signed contracts providing cover for "dozens" of industrial plants as U.S. sanctions prevent their owners from transferring risks to Western providers, Reuters wrote.

U.K. trade credit insurers paid out £54 million in the first quarter, a record for the first three months of a year, as the insolvency of Carillion PLC took its toll, according to the Association of British Insurers.

And in Thailand, insurance premiums are expected to break the 1 trillion Thai baht (US$30.63 billion) mark in one or two years, according to Asia Insurance Review, which cited Chuchatr Pramoolpol, deputy secretary general of the Office of Insurance Commission.

Featured news

Bristol-Myers blood cancer drug's potential; Novartis' Kymriah remains effective: A combination of Bristol-Myers' Empliciti met its main goal in a phase 2 study for treating certain patients with multiple myeloma; Novartis' CAR-T therapy Kymriah continued to deliver durable responses in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: 2 Japanese banks to merge in 2019; Australian regulator takes Westpac to court

Europe: CYBG, Virgin Money announce £1.7B tie-up; Allianz considers large-scale M&A deal

Middle East and Africa: Barclays Africa to ax top retail bank jobs; Sudanese central bank chief dies

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.43% to 30,309.49. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.75% to 22,680.33. In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.32% to 7,609.25. and the Euronext 100 was down 0.99% to 1,058.92.

On the macro front

The housing market index report is due out today.

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