word speech bubble illustration of business acronym term M&A Mergers and Acquisitions

Clyde & Co. and A.M. Best quell any remaining doubts about the return and acceleration of high-profile insurance/reinsurance M&A deals in two new reports.

What’s more, while transactions are global, North America is leading the way, according to Clyde & Co.’s latest Global M&A report. The law firm tracked 168 mergers and acquisitions for property/casualty insurers and reinsurers from July 2014 through June 2015, a gigantic 73 percent increase over the 97 transactions completed over the same period in the prior year.

Clyde & Co. said that the ACE/Chubb acquisition announced earlier this summer, and other deals, shows the uptick in activity and a heightened focus on the U.S./North America won’t be slowing anytime soon. In addition, deal size is increasing and expanding in focus to the mid market as smaller insurers and reinsurers look to increase their size, according to the report.

“With the largest insurance market in the world, the U.S. offers acquirers a range of targets and growth prospects,” Clyde & Co. partner Vikram Sidhu said in prepared remarks.

A strengthening economic outlook for the U.S., increased levels of capital in the industry and continuing fierce competition among insurers and reinsurers will likely drive even more deals in the coming year, Sidhu added.

A.M. Best’s report on the issue sees similar and related things. The ratings entity said M&A deal values among property/casualty insurers and reinsurers hit $21 billion in the first half of 2015. That’s a 290 percent increase compared to the same period of 2014, and up more than 90 percent from the second half of 2014.

A.M. Best said there were 76 announced M&A transactions during the period, a 73 percent rise over the 44 deals tallied over the same period last year. On top of that, average deal size grew 160 percent compared to the 2014 first half.

What is driving this M&A acceleration from A.M. Best’s perspective? Best said that companies are pushing for increased capital efficiency and scale in order to drive costs, and also seeking consolidation to boost buying power of pricing and terms and conditions.

But carriers seeking to merge also want diversified product lines, reduced exposure to market cycles, improved growth, cheaper funding and vertically integrated/enhanced distribution channels. As well, insurers and reinsurers seeking acquisitions or merger partners are sparked to make deals due to increased availability of capital (both traditional and non-traditional sources).

In simple terms, however, carriers are pursuing mergers, in part, due to a “general fear of being left behind,” A.M. Best said.

Another big driver: the push to go global.

A.M. Best said that the Italian investment firm EXOR’s $6.9 billion acquisition of PartnerRe – the culmination of much drama and back-and-forth – “highlights just how far companies will go to increase their global reach.”

Sources: Clyde & Co. and A.M. Best