Property/casualty mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations in recent months are creating opportunities to snatch up promising employees and make market inroads, W.R. Berkley Corp.’s CEO said.
“Whenever there is a meaningful merger or acquisition, that creates a degree of overlap or uncertainty or potential dislocation that impacts both the people within the organization,” W. Robert Berkley, Jr. said during the insurer’s Feb. 2 earnings call, expanding on a theme that he, and his father, Executive Chairman William R. Berkley, have touched upon previously.
“It also can, honestly, impact people outside of the organization, such as the distribution system and customers. So we certainly have seen opportunities as a result of the M&A activity. We expect we will see more,” Robert Berkley said.
Berkley explained that he sees the M&A activity, as well as individual companies “looking in the mirror and making some significant changes” as “creating some uncertainty, confusion, and … potentially opportunity as well for organizations like ourselves for both talent and business.”
Berkley said that the company has been able to capitalize on this so far, and expects “that there will be more to come.”
“From our perspective, as we’ve suggested to some in the past, the insurance business is fundamentally two things. It’s capital and it’s people. We believe capital is ever more a commodity and people are what makes the difference,” Berkley told analysts during the call. “So the opportunity to attract talented people from other organizations is certainly something that we’re focused on.
W.R. Berkley Corp. said it generated $1.76 billion in gross written premiums during the 2015 fourth quarter, versus $1.7 billion in the 2014 fourth quarter. Net premiums written came in at nearly $1.5 billion, up from $1.45 billion over the same period last year.
The insurer’s net investment income reached $127.6 million, up from $114.2 million in the 2014 fourth quarter. Net income, meanwhile, surpassed $109.7 million, down slightly from $110.7 million in the 2014 fourth quarter.
On the plus side, domestic net premiums written grew 9 percent during Q4 versus last year. But global reinsurance premiums earned and written all declined. W.R. Berkley’s international insurance business also saw some declines.
W.R. Berkley’s combined ratio landed at 93.1 for Q4, essentially flat compared to the 93.3 combined ratio in Q4 2014.
For 2015 as a whole, W.R. Berkley generated nearly $6.2 billion in net premiums written, up from just under $6 billion in 2014. Net premiums earned surpassed $6 billion, compared to more than $5.7 billion in the previous year.
Net income for 2015 landed at $503.7 million, down from more than $648.8 million in 2014. W.R. Berkley’s net investment income for 2015 surpassed $512.6 million, but that’s down from more than $600.8 million during the previous year.