Liberty Mutual Insurance has agreed to snatch up specialty lines insurer Ironshore Inc. from Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. for about $3 billion.
The planned acquisition, rumored for weeks, accomplishes an ongoing goal at the Boston-based insurer to grow its specialty lines operations.
Ironshore launched in 2006 and booked $2.2 billion in gross written premiums in 2015. It is also one of the 10 largest excess & surplus lines insurers in the U.S., according to the deal announcement.
Assuming regulatory approvals and other closing conditions are in place, the M&A agreement is expected to close in first-half 2017. Liberty Mutual also plans to keep Ironshore intact with the same management team and brand, though it will be part of the larger Liberty Mutual operation.
David Long, Liberty Mutual Insurance’s chairman and CEO, celebrated the planned M&A agreement as a win for his company in the specialty insurance realm.
“We are pleased to have Ironshore and its proven management team led by CEO Kevin Kelley join Liberty Mutual,” Long said in prepared remarks. “Ironshore has a track record of profitability underwriting global and diverse specialty risks insurance and is an ideal complement to Liberty Mutual, providing additional scale, expertise, innovation and market relationships to our $5 billion Global Specialty business.”
Kelley, in turn, noted that Ironshore will gain by becoming part of a large, global company.
“Ironshore will become part of another [A.M.Best-rated] ‘A’-rated company with a global reach, a strong balance sheet, wide client base and a much greater capacity to drive profitable growth,” Kelley said in a prepared statement.
Ironshore employs 800 people in 15 countries, with three operating hubs in the United States, Bermuda and London.
Fosun spent $2.3 billion to acquire Ironshore over the last two years. Last June, it announced plans to spin off Ironshore with an IPO. Fosun had accumulated significant debt in a 20-year acquisition spree, mostly in Europe and the United States.
Last November, China’s Fosun International Ltd. paid $1.84 billion for the remaining 80 percent stake of Ironshore Inc. that it did not already own when it became a 20 percent owner earlier in the year. Last December, officials at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a government unit that oversees deals over national security concerns, contacted Fosun with concerns over how Fosun would operate Ironshore’s Wright & Co., which provides professional liability coverage to U.S. government employees including the Central Intelligence Agency, even though Wright was a small portion of Ironshore’s overall business.
After that inquiry, Fosun delayed its initial public offering of Ironshore.
The conflict was apparently eliminated last month when Starr Companies agreed to acquire Wright USA from Ironshore. Starr Companies is headed by Maurice Greenberg, former CEO of American International Group (AIG). According to a spokesperson for Ironshore, the Wright acquisition by Starr has closed and the acquisition of Ironshore by Liberty Mutual does not affect this transaction.
Liberty Mutual is a diversified insurer with operations in 29 countries. As of Dec. 31, 2015, Liberty Mutual had $121.7 billion in consolidated assets, $102.5 billion in consolidated liabilities and $37.6 billion in annual consolidated revenue. Its growing surplus lines operation, Liberty International Underwriters, operates in 18 countries. In 2014, Liberty International contributed 16 percent of the company’s $36.3 billion in net written premium for the year.
Source: Liberty Mutual Insurance
*Material from Reuters was used for this story.