ACE Group disclosed on Dec. 18 that it has agreed to buy Fireman’s Fund’s high-net-worth personal lines business in the U.S. from German insurance giant Allianz for $365 million. The deal will close in the second quarter of 2015 assuming closing conditions and other regulatory approval requirements can be met. It will also be immediately accretive to ACE earnings.
ACE gains a number of elements in the sale, including renewal rights for new and existing business, reinsurance of all existing reserves, and access to a network of about 1,100 agents and brokers, ACE and Fireman’s Fund said.
Allianz has been gradually dismantling Fireman’s Fund all year, after a long period of mixed success owning the iconic insurance company. Allianz decided in September to absorb Fireman’s Fund’s commercial lines property/casualty business into one of its own, similar divisions. Back then, Fireman’s Fund admitted it was also considering strategic options for its personal lines business, which focuses on high-net-worth customers. A Fireman’s Fund spokesperson insisted to Carrier Management at the time that a strategy was in place to grow the personal lines portfolio under the Fireman’s Fund brand, at least in the short term.
Allianz explained that the sale gives it room to focus on building its commercial P/C business in North America under the Allianz name. Underscoring its strategy here, Allianz recently announced a new management team to lead the combined Fireman’s Fund/Alliance Global Corporate & Specialty North American business starting in 2015.
“These latest moves will complete the picture of the reconfiguration of our property and casualty insurance business in the United States with a strong footprint in commercial insurance,” Axel Theis, incoming member of the board of management for Allianz SE, said in prepared remarks.
On the other hand, ACE Chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg said the deal will help advance ACE’s high-net-worth personal lines business, which “remains a strategic growth area” for the company. What’s more, the Fireman’s Fund team that comes with the acquisition will add to that expansion, he said in a statement.
“The Fireman’s Fund team joining us has a deep understanding of the high-net-worth market and strong relationships with the agents and brokers serving this discerning clientele,” Greenberg said. “In addition, because we’ve built ACE Private Risk Services for growth, we have a robust infrastructure that gives us the opportunity to absorb the business, leverage our existing operations and systems, and scale this business efficiently and immediately.”
Fireman’s Fund had $891 million in personal insurance gross premiums written in 2013, Allianz said. That year, the company also ranked third among insurers serving the U.S. high-net-worth consumer market.
So what of the remnants of Fireman’s Fund not included in the ACE deal? Subject to legal and regulatory approvals, Allianz plans to separate and consolidate the remaining Fireman’s Fund legacy business, including asbestos and environmental exposures, workers compensation and construction defect liabilities. They will be reconstituted into a standalone company to be called San Francisco RE.
Sources: ACE Ltd. and Allianz/Fireman’s Fund