Aspen Announces Plans to Expand and Diversify; Best Comments

October 1, 2004

Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited announced from its Bermuda headquarters the next stages in the development of its corporate strategy as it expands its business in Bermuda and further diversifies its operations.

“In accordance with its strategy to build a balanced platform spanning the three key markets of the US, London and Bermuda,” Aspen said it plans to “expand its Bermuda property reinsurance underwriting activities, primarily to service its existing client base in the U.S. and Japan.”

In furtherance of this strategy, Aspen announced that “James Few has been appointed Chief Underwriting Officer of Aspen Insurance Limited, Aspen’s Bermuda subsidiary. James currently heads Aspen’s property reinsurance activity. Aspen’s senior property reinsurance underwriters Kate Vacher, Piers Vacher and Stefan Long will join James in Bermuda. Furthermore, Aspen will allocate an additional $200 million of capital to the Bermuda company to support the expansion of its operations.”

Aspen said its London based property reinsurance operations will focus on servicing Aspen’s other key markets, including the UK, Europe and Canada.

CEO Chris O’Kane commented: “This move gives us a greater presence in the increasingly important Bermudian market while at the same time creating greater capacity on our UK balance sheet to expand in new lines of business, including the recently announced marine and aviation insurance initiatives, that play to the strengths of London’s excellent distribution network.”

In reaction to the announcement A.M. Best Co. said it “believes any near term change to the current ratings of the Aspen group companies (Aspen) is unlikely following Aspen’s plans to renew its U.S. and Japanese property reinsurance book for 2005 into its Bermuda operation.”

Best currently rates, Aspen Insurance Limited (AIL) “A-” (Excellent) and Aspen Insurance UK Limited “A” (Excellent). Any changes in the ratings would probably affect AIL.

Best noted that its position “reflects information from the group that risk-adjusted capital levels in AIL will be fully maintained as a result of a capital injection of USD 200 million to support increased premium volume (approximately a 100 percent increase in gross premium income in 2005), that the relevant reinsurance protection will continue to be maintained on the property reinsurance book and that the total risk profile of the group will be largely as previously planned.”

Best said that although “the respective business profiles of the Bermuda and UK operations will clearly change,” it considers it unlikely this would have a direct rating impact.

Best also indicated it “will be discussing the restructuring in detail with Aspen’s management in the coming weeks and will comment further following that detailed analysis. In particular, maintenance of the current rating on AIL would be predicated on full execution of the capital increase and reinsurance protection.”

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.