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News digest

Cyber hires

Independent broker Safeonline has bolstered its cyber, professional and miscellaneous team.

Adam Maher and Ken Bilby join from broker Iris, while Elizabeth Robinson joins from New Dawn Risk.

The trio are joined by Jack Elliot-Frey, who began working at Safeonline in December last year. He will work on developing the growing book of submissions from the US, Canada and Europe, as well as taking on marketing activities for the broking group.

California fires

Californian wildfires that have been ablaze for more than two weeks have now destroyed 1,600 homes, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Five people have been reported dead so far.

The fires are thought to be the fourth worst in California's history, with the 1991 fire in the Oakland Hills ranked as the state's deadliest fire and worst in terms of physical property damage with 2,900 structures destroyed.

R&Q de-emption

R&Q Managing Agency has informed Lloyd's that its business forecast for 2016 has been adjusted to take into account a revised view of market prospects, resulting in it de-empting its Syndicate 1991 capacity to £130mn.

The firm said the action in reviewing the portfolio reflected the discipline being maintained by DTW Syndicate 1991 in the face of aggressive competition, particularly in the US market.

Nuclear syndicate increases capacity

Chaucer Syndicates has announced that, subject to Lloyd's Franchise Performance Directorate consent and support from capital providers, it intends to increase the capacity of specialist nuclear insurer Syndicate 1176 to £35mn for 2016.

This represents a pre-emption of 10.53 percent, based on 2015 capacity of £31.7mn. The offer has been made to all qualifying members.

Halsband joins Drinker, Biddle & Reath

Michael Halsband has joined the insurance practice at law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, sister title Trading Risk reported earlier today (21 September).

He will be part of the firm's New York office in their insurance transactional and regulatory team.

Halsband spent more than 10 years in corporate counsel roles at Centre Re and the Alea insurance group before moving into banking in 2006.

Cyber consortium launch

Beazley, Aspen and Brit have joined forces to launch an international cyber consortium at Lloyd's, which will bring an extra $60mn of capacity to the market, it was announced today (21 September).

Under the consortium syndicates managed by Aspen and Brit Global Specialty will work together with Beazley as consortium manager and claims handler. It will focus on providing data breach cover to non-US businesses with revenues in excess of $5bn.

Aon's magnificent 7

Aon Benfield has identified seven major emerging risks that will present (re)insurers with business opportunities over the next five to 10 years.

The seven risks are: US mortgage credit; the sharing economy, such as renting out personal assets; reputation and brand; microinsurance; corporate liability; terrorism; and cyber.

AmTrust appoints Attwood

AmTrust at Lloyd's intends to appoint Neil Attwood as active underwriter of Syndicate 2526 for the 2016 underwriting year, subject to Lloyd's approval.

Attwood was previously active underwriter of Torus Syndicate 1301 and has more than 25 years' experience in Lloyd's and the London market. He will report to Mike Sibthorpe, chief underwriting officer at AmTrust at Lloyd's.

HK insurance watchdog

The Chinese government is identifying candidates for chairman and other senior directors of the new Hong Kong insurance watchdog due to be set up by the end of the year, according to the South China Morning Post.

The Insurance Authority will replace the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, which regulates insurance companies but not salespeople. The new body will oversee insurers and agents.

Under a three-stage plan, the CEO, chair and other senior functionaries will be hired by the end of 2015, before the authority takes over the regulatory duties of the Office of the Commissioner by the end of 2016. Finally, new capital requirements and fees will be introduced to finance the regulator.

Beazley appoints aviation head

Beazley has promoted Dirk Froese to head up its aviation team from May 2016.

Based in London, Froese will replace David Oates, who is retiring.

Froese joined Beazley in 2012 as head of general aviation, after spending more than seven years as vice president of aviation at Liberty Mutual.

China Re IPO approval

China Reinsurance Group, the nation's biggest reinsurer, has received Hong Kong Stock Exchange approval for an initial public offering, according to media reports.

The IPO could begin as soon as October, but it is possible the carrier may delay its listing due to the ongoing stock market volatility in China.

China Re had a 33.1 percent share of China's P&C reinsurance market in 2013 and 37.7 percent of the life and health reinsurance sector, according to exchange filings.

Chilean earthquake

Data released by RMS has shown that the earthquake that struck off the coast of central Chile last Wednesday (16 September) was only a fifth as strong as the 8.8 magnitude quake of 2010.

Damage to industrial concentrations and mining facilities are the region's biggest concern for an event like this. However, reports do not indicate any significant damage to these exposures, RMS said.

Significant damage appears to be limited to weaker structures, and while the industrial port of Quintero endured a large concentration of exposure, the facility was constructed to withstand earthquakes and some levels of tsunami, so damage levels are not expected to be significant.

Japanese downgrade

A Standard & Poor's (S&P) downgrade of Japan's sovereign rating from AA- to A+ has resulted in lowered counterparty credit ratings for a swathe of Japanese insurance companies, including some of their subsidiaries.

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, Tokio Marine & Nichido Life Insurance, Ace Insurance, Sony Life Insurance, The Gibraltar Life Insurance, The Prudential Life Insurance, The Prudential Gibraltar Financial Life Insurance and MassMutual Life Insurance have had their financial strength and long-term counterparty credit ratings downgraded by one notch to A+.

"The ratings on the insurers are constrained by the sovereign ratings because both their business franchises and assets are highly concentrated in Japan, in our view," the ratings agency said.

XL Catlin unveils specialty insurance leaders

XL Catlin's specialty insurance division has announced its leadership team in the Americas.

It includes Jason Denechaud, who will continue to manage XL Catlin's accident and health underwriting team, having formerly done so for Catlin; Eric Donfrio, XL's aviation leader; and Denise Balan, who led XL's crisis management underwriting team and will continue to do so for XL Catlin.

Richard DeSimone will head up marine, while Jennifer Schipf will oversee fine art and specie. Rafael Docavo-Malvezzi becomes Americas regional product lead for political risk and trade credit, in addition to his role as head of global political risk and trade credit risk management.

Fairfax agrees convertible bond

Canadian conglomerate Fairfax Financial has agreed a EUR70mn convertible bond issue with Irish insurer FBD, subject to FBD shareholder approval.

The bond is a 10-year Solvency II-compliant instrument with a 7 percent coupon paid annually, while the conversion price has been set at EUR8.50 and is exercisable from year three to year 10.

Shares in FBD - Ireland's only publicly traded insurer - have fallen by more than 50 percent in the last year, but closed up almost 9 percent at EUR6.82 following the announcement.

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