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Imagine exec to head Hiscox Bermuda

Imagine Group Holdings Ltd’s chief underwriting officer Robert Forness is to leave the (re)insurer to head up Hiscox Bermuda, The Insurance Insider revealed today (21 July).

Forness will take over from Robert Childs, currently CEO and chief underwriting officer of the Bermuda-domiciled UK insurer’s operating subsidiary on the island, taking a team with him from Imagine.

In an announcement confirming the move, Hiscox said Forness will join the (re)insurer on 1 September at the head of a new “specialist insurance and reinsurance team”.

The company added that the new team would enable Hiscox to extend its offering to include custom risk reinsurance, “specialising in corporates, captives and risk retention groups”.

The team will be based in Bermuda, Philadelphia and London.

Commenting on the move, Forness said: “This team of very experienced specialty risk professionals is excited about joining Hiscox. We look forward to working within Hiscox to meet the needs of our existing and future clients.”

It is thought Childs will return to London next year after a three-year stint on the island, where he will head up the group’s international business, which includes Bermuda, the US and Guernsey.

He will also retain his position as group chief underwriting officer and chairman of Hiscox USA.

The news comes as uncertainty continues over the future of Bermuda-headquartered Imagine, which is currently in the process of selling its Lloyd’s platform.

As revealed in the July issue of The Insurance Insider, the company has engaged Lexicon Partners Ltd to advise on the sale of its Lloyd’s operation, and is in the process of narrowing down a shortlist of buyers that is thought to include SCOR and Max Capital.

The Lloyd’s operation – Imagine Syndicate Management Ltd – manages Syndicates 1400, 2525 and 2526, while its parent is thought to have been close to selling the group as a whole to Aspen last year, before talks broke down.

Forness, who began his career at Prudential Financial, Inc in the US, joined Imagine in July 2002, and was previously COO of Odyssey Re’s London and Bermudian reinsurance companies.

Childs moved to Bermuda at the end of 2005 to head the (re)insurer’s newly launched operation on the island.

The A- rated subsidiary had shareholders’ equity in excess of $700mn at 30 November last year, and writes a book of external property reinsurance business, and acts as an internal reinsurer of Hiscox Group.

Hiscox Bermuda saw its external reinsurance book grow 60 percent to £148.7mn in 2007, generating a healthy combined ratio of 56.7 percent.

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