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Hiscox shares leap as profit up; AIG cutting UK jobs; Aflac plans $1B dividends


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Hiscox shares leap as profit up; AIG cutting UK jobs; Aflac plans $1B dividends

Shares in Bermuda-based, London-listed Hiscox Ltd. were up almost 8% as of just after midday in London after the Lloyd's of London insurer reported first-half pretax profit of $163.6 million, up from $129.1 million in the year-ago period, and raised its interim dividend to 13.25 cents per share from 12.60 cents per share. Gross premiums written for the period totaled $2.23 billion, compared to the year-ago $1.84 billion.

American International Group Inc. is planning to reduce 6% of its U.K. workforce by laying off around 120 employees as part of a cost-cutting drive, The Insurance Insider reported.

Aflac Inc. plans to reduce its risk-based capital ratio to about 650% by the end of 2018, CFO Frederick Crawford said during the company's second-quarter earnings call. The plan will involve the distribution of about $1 billion in dividends during the second half.

Meanwhile, The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. will keep acquisitions at the fore of its capital deployment strategy going into 2019 rather than share repurchases, Chairman and CEO Christopher Swift said.

Shareholders holding about 84.6% of Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc.'s common shares either opted to receive or were deemed to have made an election to receive WMIH Corp. common shares as consideration for the pending merger between the two companies.

PG&E Corp.'s wildfire catastrophe bond, Cal Phoenix Re Ltd., may upsize to $225 million from $200 million, but with a 7.5% coupon, as opposed to the initial range of 6% to 6.5%, Artemis reported. PG&E Corp is using captive insurer Energy Insurance Services, with Tokio Millennium Re as fronting reinsurer for the bond, the first to be purely exposed to wildfire risk.

Meanwhile, Bermuda-based PartnerRe Ltd. upsized its collateralized reinsurance sidecar, Lorenz Re, to $195 million from $133 million, Artemis reported.

France-based CNP Assurances SA named Deputy CEO Antoine Lissowski to serve as interim CEO, effective Sept. 1. Lissowski replaces Frederic Lavenir. The company today reported first-half attributable net profit of €672 million, up 2.3% year over year. Lissowski batted away questions about a potential merger with La Banque Postale SA, a lender controlled by the French postal service, Reuters reported.

London-based Aviva PLC will open this week a refund scheme for investors who lost money in the company's preference shares debacle, The Times of London reported.

Malta-headquartered runoff specialist DARAG Deutsche Versicherungs-und Rückversicherungs-AG secured €260 million of private equity investment from London-based Aleph and New York-based Crestview Partners.

China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. expects its first-half net profit attributable to equity holders to rise between 3.06 billion Chinese yuan and 4.29 billion yuan compared to the prior-year period, when it booked net attributable profit of 12.24 billion yuan.

The Auckland High Court adjourned to Aug. 9-10 a hearing on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's request to liquidate CBL Corp. Ltd. unit CBL Insurance Ltd., reported.

Indian insurance companies have stopped providing cover for Iranian cargoes including crude oil as U.S. sanctions on the Middle Eastern country loom, The Indian Express reported. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. and United India Insurance Co. Ltd., as well as reinsurer General Insurance Corp. of India, or GIC Re, have stopped offering cover to goods imported from Iran.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Big life insurers see stocks rise after Aflac, Ameriprise report Q2 results: An industry analyst told S&P Global Market Intelligence that solid results for the duo are a sign to investors that the U.S. life insurance industry is recovering from a midyear low point.

Mapfre to get more competitive in Spanish motor, rules out 'price war': CFO Fernando Mata said the Spanish insurer is not about to start a price war in its home country's auto insurance market, although an "excellent" combined ratio gives it the ability to cut premiums.

'Medicare for all' projected at $32.6 trillion; FDA approves Indivior schizophrenia drug: The "Medicare for all" bill would cost the U.S. government an additional $32.6 trillion over a decade, according to a study; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Indivior's Perseris to treat adults with schizophrenia.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: ICICI Bank Q1 profit down; 2 Japan banks to merge; Samsung Securities CEO leaves

Europe: Deutsche cuts London clearing ops; StanChart extends US sanctions scrutiny

Middle East and Africa: Leumi to sell credit card unit to Warburg Pincus; Moody's downgrades Zambia

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.25% to 28,733.13. The Nikkei 225 slid 0.74% to 22,544.84. In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.07% to 7,696.08, and the Euronext 100 lost 0.30% to 1,077.55.

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 pending home sales index is due out today.

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