Global Insurance M&A Deal Counts Down But Drivers Remain: Clyde & Co.

July 13, 2016

Although the number of mergers and acquisitions completed in the global insurance industry has dropped in the last six months, Brexit is adding to existing drivers as carriers search for growth, a global law firm said Wednesday.

After a three-year high point in the first half of 2015, global deals fell to 173 in the period from October 2015 to March 2016, down from 250 in the prior six months, according to Clyde & Co.’s report “Searching for Growth: M&A and Other Strategies.” The report reviews strategies for growth including M&A and alternatives such as joint ventures, setting up in new markets and deploying technology solutions.

Singapore is one example of a place where the firm reports seeing an increase in interest from international insurers and reinsurers looking to set up shop. Low insurance penetration rates in Southeast Asia present an attractive proposition for insurers in mature markets experiencing modest growth levels, the report notes. But many jurisdictions in the region are characterized by a lack of obvious or appealing targets, making the establishment of a branch or subsidiary the more logical route to entry.

Miami is also emerging as a regional hub for Latin American and Caribbean—attracting international players who are drawn to the city’s deep connections with, and accessibility to, the region, the report notes.

In Europe, M&A may be the growth solution of choice. “The recent vote by the UK to leave the European Union also means that, in Europe, there will be a sustained period of uncertainty. As a result, some businesses may well want to consider some transactional activity to create a platform within the EU so that they can continue to access business that will disappear if passporting rights are rescinded,” noted Andrew Holderness, Global Head of the Corporate Insurance Group.

“Another, as yet largely untested, option is to enter into a joint venture (JV) with a local partner. This year, foreign direct investment limits have been raised in markets such as China and India, offering foreign insurers greater access to some fast growing markets,” Holderness said.

Citing some recent data from Accenture, indicating a three-fold jump in insurer investments into technology start-ups, Holderness said this is yet another route to securing future growth. “Market conditions in many insurance sectors are not expected to improve in the foreseeable future. As a result, insurance businesses will need to examine every available avenue as they look for creative answers to the issues they face in the next few years,” he said.

The report covers both the life and nonlife sectors of the insurance business.