PartnerRe set July 24 as the date that shareholders will vote on its proposed merger with AXIS Capital Holdings, months after both parties first announced their agreement.

The milestone follows a tumultuous spring for both companies.

Weeks ago, the Italian investment firm EXOR swooped in with an unsolicited offer for PartnerRe, which had agreed to merge with AXIS in a deal announced on Jan. 25. On May 22, the Bermuda reinsurer finally agreed to meet with EXOR to see if it would improve its $6.8 billion bid for the company. But EXOR refused to negotiate unless PartnerRe’s board deemed EXOR’s offer to be a “superior proposal” over the PartnerRe/AXIS M&A deal.

Meanwhile, activist investor/hedge fund firm Sandell Asset Management said that PartnerRe’s decision to reject EXOR hurt its shareholders.

PartnerRe Chairman Paul Montupet said EXOR “continues to use strong rhetoric” but that its all-cash offer “is opportunistic and reflects an unacceptable price coupled with significant risk.”

Montupet said in prepared remarks that the PartnerRe board strongly recommends “that our shareholders support the highly compelling transaction between PartnerRe and AXIS Capital.”

The AXIS Capital/PartnerRe merger is designed to create a top global insurer and reinsurer with gross written premiums surpassing $10 billion, more than $14 billion in total capital and cash, and invested assets above $31 billion. Both companies bill their deal as a “merger of equals” approved by their respective boards that will gain from a larger market presence and increased scale.

Source: PartnerRe