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Hurricane claims hit Lloyd's FY'17 results; Aviva changes preference share plan

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week.

Aviva withdraws plans

* Aviva PLC is withdrawing plans to cancel preference shares issued by the company and General Accident PLC, after receiving "strong feedback and criticism" from investors and queries from regulators.

Bottomline

* Austria-based Vienna Insurance Group AG reported preliminary fourth-quarter 2017 net profit of €106.4 million under International Financial Reporting Standards, up from €90.0 million in the year-ago period. As a result of the positive business development and measures introduced as part of the group's Agenda 2020 strategic plan, it noted that the targets originally set for 2019 are being moved forward to 2018.

Meanwhile, the group's 10% stake in real estate investment company S IMMO AG has drawn interest from "several parties," Reuters reported, citing a spokesman for the Austrian insurance company.

* Underwriters at U.K.-based insurance marketplace Lloyd's of London need to continue to push through price increases to improve underlying underwriting performance, Lloyd's CFO John Parry said during an earnings presentation. The specialist insurance market reported a £2.00 billion loss for 2017 because of a £4.5 billion bill for major claims, including £3.6 billion for hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined.

* Dutch insurer Achmea BV reported a net profit of €216 million for full-year 2017, compared to a net loss of €379 million in the prior year. "Our strategic planning period runs until 2020 and foresees an annual structural gross operational result of about €450 million, excluding the contribution from our healthcare activities," Executive Board Chairman Willem van Duin said.

* Germany-based Talanx AG reported full-year 2017 net income attributable to shareholders of €672 million, down from an adjusted €903 million in 2016, on the back of "unprecedented losses due to natural disasters."

Appointments

* Aon PLC unit Aon UK Ltd said its COO of 21 years, David Ledger, will retire at the end of March to be succeeded by Nathan Shanaghy, effective April 1. Shanaghy, who is COO of Aon Risk Solutions UK and the London Global Broking Centre, will report to Julie Page, who was named Aon UK CEO at the end of February.

* The board of Placing Platform Ltd., the London Market Group's electronic placing platform, named Hiscox Ltd. CEO Bronek Masojada as chair, replacing outgoing Chair David Ledger. It was not made clear when Ledger will step down.

* Phoenix Group Holdings named Tony Kassimiotis COO and Susan McInnes chief risk officer. Kassimiotis, who will report to CEO Clive Bannister, most recently served as Phoenix Group's managing director of operations. McInnes, who most recently held the post of customer director at Phoenix Life Holdings Ltd., will succeed Wayne Snow. The company also named Deputy Group Finance Director Rakesh Thakrar director of the life company's board. All three individuals will join Phoenix Group's executive committee.

* Neil Maidment will step down as Beazley PLC's chief underwriting officer at the end of 2018, having served in the role for 10 years. He will be succeeded by Adrian Cox, head of specialty lines. Maidment will also leave the company's board Dec. 31 as he retires after being with the U.K. insurer since 1990.

Market news

* Finnish financial group Sampo Oyj and Nordic Capital Fund VIII LP will control more than 97% of consumer finance specialty lender Nordax Group AB (publ) after shareholders representing roughly 23,044,054 shares in Nordax, equivalent to a 20.77% stake, accepted the offer to acquire all outstanding shares in the company. The acceptance period will be extended to April 5 from March 21 to give other shareholders an opportunity to accept the offer.

* Russian insurance company OAO Reso Garantia plans to carry out an IPO in April and has selected organizers for the offering, Reuters reported, citing two sources from the banking sector.

* The Benetton family, through its Edizione Srl investment vehicle, plans to raise its 2% stake in Generali, Reuters reported, citing "two sources close to the matter."

In other news

* XL Catlin's London-based insurance operations have introduced a contract continuity clause to be included in insurance policies written by its London-based entities Catlin Insurance Co. (UK) Ltd. and Lloyd's Syndicate - 2003. The clause addresses the risk that contracts written prior to Brexit may become impermissible after Britain's exit from the EU.

* The U.K. government will amend the law to allow Pool Reinsurance Co. Ltd., the U.K. government-supported body that backstops insurers for payouts related to terror incidents, to cover losses from business interruptions that are not the result of commercial property damage.

* AA Plc served former Chairman Bob Mackenzie with a notice requiring him to surrender about 33 million incentive shares that could be worth up to £220 million, Sky News reported.

* The U.K. government is bringing forward legislation designed to curb spurious whiplash claims and change how a key discount rate is set. The changes are seen as likely to cut U.K. motor insurers' claims bills. The change to the calculation of the personal injury discount, or Ogden, rate has been mooted virtually since it was lowered to negative 0.75% in March 2017.

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

UK insolvencies failing to harden credit insurance market: An abundance of capacity in both the primary and reinsurance markets is keeping premium rates low in the cutthroat trade credit insurance industry, despite recent high-profile losses in the U.K.

Fears of growth slowdown slash UK motor insurer Sabre's share price: Sabre's share price fell more than 13% in March 22 trading, despite impressing analysts with its first set of results since its December IPO.