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December 2007/6

  • An active week at Berkshire Hathaway saw the Warren Buffett-headed firm enter the troubled bond insurer sector, and buy-up a reinsurance run-off unit of Dutch financial services giant ING for $433mn.
  • Lehman Brothers, the largest US underwriter of mortgage-backed bonds, faces legal action by Australian municipal governments after the value of its sub-prime related investments dropped by as much as 86 percent.
  • Insurance linked securities (ILS) pioneer and prolific cat bond issuer Swiss Re has returned to the capital markets with the issue of a further $60mn of notes under its $1.5bn Successor Hurricane Industry shelf programme.
  • Shares in reinsurance broker Benfield Group are continuing to fall following another bearish note from analysts at Numis Securities.
  • Major brokers Aon Corp and Willis Group Holdings have welcomed the seven-year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) that was signed into US law by President Bush on 26 December.
  • Despite the absence of so-called "megacatastrophes", a high number of loss events resulted in a 50 percent increase in economic losses from natural catastrophes to $75bn, with subsequent insured losses almost doubling to just under $30bn.
  • Ratings agency AM Best has upgraded the financial strength rating (FSR) of Argo Group subsidiary Peleus Reinsurance Ltd from A- (Excellent) to A (Excellent).
  • Financial guaranty and credit (re)insurer Assured Guaranty Ltd (AGL) has successfully raised net proceeds of $304mn on the sale of 12,483,960 shares in a public offering priced at $25.50 a share.
  • In a further twist of the sub-prime knife, ratings agency Fitch has placed the world’s second largest monoline bond insurer, Ambac Assurance Corp on Rating Watch Negative.
  • Bermudian (re)insurer XL Capital Ltd has announced the earlier than expected departure of its chairman Michael Esposito.
  • French mutual Groupama SA has completed its first insurance linked securities (ILS) transaction with its EUR200mn securitisation of French windstorm risk.
  • General Re has been ordered to produce records of its internal investigations in the criminal trial of four of its former executives that is due to begin in Connecticut on 7 January.