Third Point Reinsurance Ltd., co-founded by hedge-fund manager Dan Loeb, said the company is positioned to withstand competition from other investment firms because the industry isn’t as easy to enter as some people think.
Fund managers “have a lot of money, and they go, ‘Hey, we can get any dummies to run a reinsurance company,” Third Point Re Chief Executive Officer John Berger said Tuesday at a conference sponsored by Morgan Stanley. Because of scrutiny from ratings firm A.M. Best, which grades the financial strength of insurers, “it’s going to be increasingly difficult for new companies to form.”
Highbridge Capital Management and Two Sigma Investments are among firms that followed Loeb in helping to set up Bermuda reinsurers, gaining tax advantages and access to premium revenue that they can use to buy securities. Billionaire Warren Buffett said at the annual meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. last month that the reinsurance industry had “turned for the worse” as more capital floods into the industry, driving down prices.
Reinsurers take on risks from primary carriers, who tend to direct their business to counterparties with satisfactory scores from A.M. Best. Berger said that Pine River Capital Management was among firms that were unable to get Best’s blessing, and that more will struggle to meet the ratings company’s standards.
“It’s a pretty tough road to get through,” Berger said. “We talk to the Best people frequently. And they say they see a steady stream of alternative capital coming in who just don’t understand how hard it is to start a reinsurance company.”
Jim Peavy, a spokesman for A.M. Best, declined to comment, as did Patrick Clifford, a spokesman for Pine River at Abernathy MacGregor Group.
Third Point Re shares have slipped 0.9 percent this year in New York, after falling 22 percent in 2014.