Chinese Industrial Firms Will Lead Insurance M&A in 2016, to Grow Beyond Asia

By | February 5, 2016

China’s biggest industrial companies want to buy insurers in 2016 as they seek to grow outside Asia as the domestic economy slows and falling insurance rates prompt more firms to do deals, according to Willis Towers Watson Plc.

“We’ve been pretty active working with Chinese buyers,” said the broker’s dealmaker Rafal Walkiewicz at an Insurance Insider conference in London. We are taking “many more inquiries from large industrials who either want to replicate what Fosun does or they just want to diversify,” he added.

Fosun International Ltd., whose president Guo Guangchang once likened himself to billionaire Warren Buffett, has built a global empire spanning industries from insurance to holiday resorts. The company said last year that it is focused on building up both its insurance and private banking businesses.

About $61.8 billion worth of insurance company acquisitions were completed in 2015, 31 percent more than a year earlier, as record levels of capital from alternative providers such as hedge funds placed pressure on pricing. Most of the insurance deals last year were in the U.S., led by ACE Ltd.’s $29 billion deal to buy Chubb Corp., data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

Speaking at the same event, Aon Plc Chief Executive Officer Greg Case said that the industry would need to see “multiple Hurricane Katrinas,” which cost the industry $41.1 billion after it hit the U.S. in 2005, to absorb the excess capital that’s available to underwrite risk.

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