Mark Watson, Argo Group

Argo Group International Holdings is the proud new owner of Italian specialty insurer Ariscom, giving it an efficient way to expand through Europe. Neither side disclosed financial details.

Argo Group CEO Mark Watson III explained that the purchase helped give the property/casualty specialty insurer and reinsurer a ready-made infrastructure through which to grow its European operations.

“Ariscom provides an established platform that we can use to efficiently expand our presence in continental Europe. Italy is one of Europe’s largest and best-performing P/C insurance markets,” Watson said in prepared remarks.

Watson added that Argo will tap into Ariscom’s existing broker and client network through Italy with an eye on developing capacity in Spain, Portugal and elsewhere across Europe.

Argo is not the only insurer or company to see the potential of pursuing European or global growth via Italy.

In February, Sompo International said it would buy the Italian agriculture insurer A&A, S.r.l. Sompo said the purchase aligns with its plans to build integrated global capabilities in the crop insurance market. Last October, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought a 9 percent stake of Italian insurer Societa Cattolica di Assicurazioni Scrl.

Argo, to accommodate its acquisition, is repositioning some of its executives and planning a branding change. Matt Harris, head of ArgoGlobal’s European and Asian operations, has been named Ariscom managing director. ArgoGlobal also plans to rebrand Ariscom with a focus on highlighting the strength the combined operations will bring.

“Our international team has a great deal of expertise that will improve the effectiveness, efficiency and, ultimately, profitability of Ariscom,” Jose Hernandez, head of Argo Group’s International segment, said in prepared remarks. “We are planning an aggressive re-launch strategy and intend to deploy some of the company’s proven digital [products] to enhance the value we provide to clients.”

Argo Group’s Ariscom acquisition comes a little more than a year after its last M&A transaction. In February 2017, Argo completed a $235 million purchase of Ariel Re, and the reinsurance brand is continuing with the combined company as a member of Argo Group.

Source: Argo Group