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News in brief

ProSight acquisition is confirmed

Private equity-backed NYMagic has announced the completion of its acquisition by property and casualty (P&C) insurer ProSight Specialty Insurance Holdings, after a merger agreement was approved by NYMagic's stockholders at a meeting held on 22 November.

Under the terms of the agreement NYMagic stockholders are entitled to receive $25.75 per share.

ProSight Specialty Insurance was founded by CEO Joseph Beneducci, and is backed by affiliates of TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners, as well as other co-investors.

With the closing of the transaction, NYMagic's common stock will cease to trade on the New York Stock Exchange and will be delisted.

NYMagic's name will be changed to ProSight Specialty Insurance Group.

NYMagic P&C insurance subsidiaries specialise in underwriting marine, inland marine and non-marine liability insurance.

Ratings agency downgrades Allianz subsidiary

Standard & Poor's (S&P) has downgraded the Allianz US subsidiary Fireman's Fund Insurance Co to A+ from AA-.

S&P said a decline in Fireman's Fund's overall competitive position, weak underwriting results and deterioration in the quality of its capital base are the reasons for the downgrade. S&P said its outlook is stable.

The agency also said that the negatives are partially offset by the strategic importance of the Fireman's Fund to parent company Allianz, which has a strong presence in certain niche markets and a conservative investment strategy.

S&P revises outlook on XL Group to stable and affirms ratings

Standard & Poor's has revised its outlook on XL Group and its subsidiaries to stable from negative.

The ratings agency also affirmed its "A" counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on XL Group's insurance subsidiaries and its "BBB+" counterparty credit ratings on the holding companies.

Although S&P believes XL has a higher potential for realised investment losses and potential losses from run-off businesses than its property and casualty peers, this threat has reduced markedly.

The agency said it does not anticipate that any such losses would materially detract from the group's continued strong operating performance.

S&P added that the ratings on XL Group and its members reflect the group's "strong global market presence, operating performance, and capitalisation".

Aon Benfield launches Solvency II-focused software
Aon Benfield, the global reinsurance intermediary and capital adviser, has launched its new Solvency II-focused version 5 of ReMetrica, its dynamic financial analysis tool for capital modelling.

ReMetrica has evolved to help (re)insurers meet the proposed regulatory requirements under Solvency II and to enable more effective year of account reporting for the Lloyd's market.

Aon Benfield worked with a group of insurers, predominantly from Lloyd's, to shape enhanced functions for underwriting year reporting to meet the market's requirements.

Echo Re to increase shareholders' capital

The general assembly of Echo Re has decided to increase the company's shareholders' capital to SwFr50mn.

Echo Re has statutory capital of SwFr75mn available to write reinsurance contracts in the company's second renewals.

German mutual DEVK-Group-affiliate Echo Re concentrates on the insurance markets in the Middle East, in which it underwrites proportionate and non-proportionate non-life business in property, casualty, marine, engineering, energy and general accident lines.

For the upcoming renewals in 2011 Echo Re intends to increase its premiums by approximately 10 percent from SwFr27mn today to SwFr30mn by the end of 2011.

Based on the increase of its shareholders' capital Echo Re will enlarge its capacity per contract and broaden its market expertise by expanding its team of experienced underwriters.

HCC announces two additions to board

International specialty insurance company HCC Insurance Holdings has announced the election of Leslie Stone Heisz and Deborah Hicks Midanek as independent members of the company's board of directors.

Heisz is a retired investment banking and finance executive, and was previously managing director of investment bank Lazard Freres & Co.

Midanek has served as the president of Solon Group, a business development firm that provides turnaround services and strategic advice to organisations in transition.

Previously, Midanek held several positions with Glass & Associates, a turnaround management firm, including president and COO from 2003 to 2004.

Electrical Contractors new appointment

The Electrical Contractors' Insurance Company has confirmed the appointment of Agneta Desouza as underwriting manager, reporting to chief underwriting officer Richard Forrest-Smith.

Agneta has over 25 years of underwriting experience, having spent the last six years at NIG as underwriting team leader for renewals and new business.

Prior to that Agneta was at NU Bonus for over 10 years.

Microinsurance Innovation Facility issues new proposal

The Microinsurance Innovation Facility (MIF) has issued a new call for proposals for its innovative grants programme.

The new round is focused on scale and efficiency and is funded by the Z Zurich Foundation of Zurich Financial Services.

The MIF seeks to promote microinsurance projects that utilise technology and process innovations to increase operational efficiency to protect low-income households.

The proposal seeks to promote policies that offer value to low-income clients, requiring that premiums remain low and benefit the clients as much as possible.

However, in this context insurers need to reach large numbers of low-income clients to achieve profitability.

Van Ameyde and SwissItalian Associates start Italian joint venture

Van Ameyde, the Milan-based company part of the Dutch multinational loss adjusting service Van Ameyde Group, and SwissItalian Associates SA, the Lugano-based specialist loss adjuster managed by Canadian Daniel Capretti, have agreed to start providing joint services for international insurers in Italy.

The joint venture will combine Van Ameyde's services and nationwide network of generalist adjusters and legal-medical experts with SwissItalian Associates' highly specialised staff of lawyers, engineers and legal medical experts.

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