ACE Ltd. and Chubb said they have received all necessary regulatory approvals and will close their $29.7 billion merger agreement today, Jan. 14 – six months after the companies first announced their surprise deal.
The newly-combined company will use the Chubb name and be the world’s largest publicly traded property/casualty insurer.
Plans call for its stock to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CB on the first trading day after the closing.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) gave the green light to the deal in late September.
After the deal closes, the balance sheet’s size and strength will elevate the combined company into the elite group of global P/C insurers. As of December 31, 2014, on an aggregate basis, the combined company had total shareholders’ equity of nearly $46 billion and cash, investments and other assets of $150 billion.
The new Chubb will rank second among U.S. commercial lines insurers and also be the U.S. leader in high-net-worth personal lines coverage. It will also be the leading global professional lines player, and the combined entity will represent more than $31 billion in net written premiums for all product lines combined globally (based on 2014 year-end figures).
Early on, both sides moved quickly to integrate their operations, something that ACE Chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg, who is chairman and CEO of the new Chubb, said reflected well on future plans and goals.
“Since the transaction was announced six months ago, we have moved rapidly and deliberately with integration planning,” Greenberg said in prepared remarks. “This process has given us great confidence in the potential of the new Chubb to create significant value over time.”
The company has made a series of announcements of leadership and management changes for the combined entity.
The combined company will remain a Swiss company with principal offices in Zurich.
While Greenberg is assuming leadership of the new entity, Chubb CEO John Finnegan, who planned on retiring at the end of 2016, will serve as executive vice chairman for External Affairs of North America and will assist with integration.
The company’s board is being expanded from 14 directors to 18 directors with the addition of four independent directors from Chubb’s current board.
Greenberg has said that the combined company will preserve the independent agency culture prevalent at the old Chubb.
The new company will adopt the best of both companies and Chubb’s agency system is better than ACE’s, whereas ACE is better at brokerage, Greenberg said during a webcast for Chubb employees from around the globe on July 20.
The plan for the new company calls for not only keeping the agency distribution and branch structure of Chubb but also growing this distribution channel with new products and customers, he said.
“We’re going to preserve the agency culture. We’re going to preserve the agency distribution. We’re going to preserve the branch system,” said Greenberg.
The ACE CEO has no plans to change the contingent commission system – to do so he’d have “to be stupid” or have “rocks” in his head, he said. Some insurers pay contingent commissions to agents for achieving certain goals with the insurer, such as placing a particular amount of business, retaining a number of policies or achieving a particular loss ratio.
The final price tag for the cash and stock deal is a bit higher than the $28 billion agreement initially announced on July 1. It nudged higher based on the closing price of ACE Ltd. shares and the number of outstanding shares of Chubb common stock as of Jan. 12.
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