The Class of 2020 already has a new member, but it’s not a true startup, the chair of the company said recently.
Speaking at the KBW Insurance Conference in early September, Sid Sankaran, chair of Third Point Re, was referring to SiriusPoint, the combined entity that will emerge from a transformative deal in which Third Point Re, a former Bermuda hedge fund reinsurer, will combine with Sirius Group.
“Potential new class of 2020 reinsurers are still in the process of starting up from scratch. But at closing, SiriusPoint will already be many steps ahead,” said Sankaran, who went on to describe the uncomplicated integration of Third Point’s 36-member team with just over 1,000 employees of Sirius Group, and the lack of overlap in the reinsurance portfolios currently written by the two companies.
Sirius brings insurance business into the mix as well.In spite of market chatter about Class of 2020 and 2021 startups sprouting up, a rating agency analyst and another Bermuda market executive don’t see a trend of new/co-formations devoted to reinsurance taking shape.
Brian Schneider, a senior director of Fitch Ratings, who displayed a list of 12 Bermuda companies that have been acquired since 2015 during a virtual conference held in place of a Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous de Septembre event, said that M&A could increase in the near term if the hardening market does not “offset the added strain of COVID-19 losses at select companies ripe for takeover.” But even though hard market phases have seen the launch of new startups to take advantage of rising reinsurance prices and better terms, he’s not expecting the same this time around.
Instead, “the industry could see a few additional scale-ups akin to the relaunched Starstone U.S. that is to focus on specialty/E&S business“—an area garnering more and more interest, Schneider said.
David Brown, chair of Hamilton Re and former CEO of a Class of 2005 reinsurer Flagstone Re, is on the same page. “I don’t necessarily see a class of 2020, as in de novo startups from nothing, which is what happened in 2005. I think if we see activity, a lot of it will be on the insurance side. And what I think we’ll see or are seeing already is either people adding capital to existing companies, or people taking an existing company and they’re going to be restarting it or repurposing it—because to start from nothing, from scratch with a clean piece of paper and get all necessary approvals and access to business, is very difficult,” Brown said.
Flagstone was ultimately acquired by Validus, another member of the same Bermuda class. And then American International Group ultimately acquired Validus, giving a reinsurer arm to commercial and specialty insurer AIG. At the same time, traditional reinsurers, like Everest Re, have been actively growing the insurance side of their business organically.
Asked where Hamilton fits into this picture—as an acquirer of business or talent on the insurance side, or as a seller to become more reinsurance-focused, Brown said the long-term vision for Hamilton Re is to be in both the insurance and reinsurance businesses. “I think history has shown that being one or the other is maybe not the best strategy because sometimes the reinsurance market is harder or the insurance market, or vice versa. I think you want that ability, on behalf of your shareholders, to deploy your capital where it’s best rewarded. So, having both platforms gives you that ability.”
“Right now we’re 50/50 insurance/reinsurance. It could be skewed one way or the other in future years depending on where we see the most attractive pricing,” he added.