News Briefs

Willis Expands in China, Latin America: In a breakthrough agreement, global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings Limited, has received written approval from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to increase its ownership interest in Willis Pudong Insurance Brokers Co. Ltd. to 51 percent. Willis also announced two acquisitions aimed at strengthening its presence in the Latin American market with the purchase of JH Asesores y Corredores de Seguros S.A. (JHA), a leading broker in Lima, Peru, and K.R. Athos Consultoria e Corretora de Seguro de Vida s/c Ltda (Athos), an employee benefits company in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Willis becomes the first broker granted permission to hold a majority share in a fully licensed broking operation in China. The company previously held a 50 percent share in Pudong, acquired in March 2004. Willis Chairman and CEO Joe Plumeri stressed that Willis Pudong’s license “covers the whole of the People’s Republic of China and includes both insurance and reinsurance broking for commercial risks.” It operates from 19 licensed branch offices located throughout the country.

Amlin Gives Details on New Reinsurer: London-based Amlin Plc, a leading Lloyd’s insurer (Syndicate 2001), announced details of its plans to form a new Bermuda-based reinsurance company with an initial capitalization of $1 billion financed through a rights issue (limited to the U.K.) and internal financing. Amlin’s goal is to participate in the forthcoming first quarter of the 2006 renewal season. The new company, which will operate independently of Lloyd’s, intends to “focus on underwriting regional U.S. and international catastrophe reinsurance, “leveraging the expertise and relationships of Amlin’s London based underwriting business,” said a company announcement. Amlin forecasts incremental gross premium income (net of brokerage) at around $350 million, increasing to $500 million in 2006 and 2007.

London Market Loses Business: A report from International Financial Services, London (IFSL) notes that gross premiums on the London Market fell 15 percent in 2004 to £21.7 billion ($37.3 billion). According to a new edition of IFSL’s Insurance Report, the decline follows five consecutive years of growth during which premiums increased by more than 80 percent. The privately funded organization noted that in 2004 Lloyd’s generated 54 percent of known London Market gross premiums with the company market generating 44 percent and P&I Clubs the remainder. According to the IFSL, the “U.K. insurance market was the largest in Europe and third largest in the world in 2004 with premium income totaling over £150 billion [$258 billion]. This was down 3.4 percent on the previous year and 16.5 percent below record premiums generated in 2000. The fall since 2000 was due to a decline in long-term premium income. The U.K.’s life market premiums were almost double those of any other European country. Its non-life market was also the largest in Europe in 2004, having overtaken Germany two years earlier.”

Hiscox Outlines Bermuda Insurer Plans: Hiscox, Plc, one of the U.K.’s leading Lloyd’s and specialty insurers said it plans to raise £170 million ($297 million) through a rights issue to fund a Bermuda-based subsidiary, which will write a balanced business mix of reinsurance and retail business. Another $225 million will be financed through bank borrowings and existing Group resources to make up the $500 million total initial capitalization. Hiscox noted the initiative recognizes an “opportunity to capitalise on favourable market conditions with expected participation in the 2006 renewals season.” It plans to field an “experienced management team with Robert Childs to become Chief Executive of Hiscox Bermuda.” It estimates premiums for 2006 at around $325 million.