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February 2008/1

  • Despite strong results, Axa SA has received a target price downgrade from Collins Stewart analyst Tim Young after concerns about continuing dollar weakness, asset market turmoil and the possible acquisition of Friends Provident.
  • Lloyd's has remained upbeat despite the market missing the 100 percent 2007 target for take-up on usage of electronic claims files (ECF) as it ended the year at 88 percent.
  • Despite weaker market conditions, US insurer Chubb Corp saw its 2007 earnings grow on the back of strong reserve releases.
  • The $250mn loss of an African telecommunications satellite at the end of last year was placed in the space insurance market by Willis, with cover understood to be led by Munich Re.
  • Rating agencies - those all-powerful arbiters of insurers' destinies - are getting restless and it is not just the monoliners who are in their sights.
  • Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) has downgraded Bermudian life reinsurer Scottish Re Group after its investment portfolio continued to suffer from the sub-prime crisis.
  • UK regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA) warned last week that it is scrutinising the wholesale broking industry and called on the sector to implement the necessary "culture change".
  • St Paul Travelers' UK operations are following the lead of its US parent company and rebranding as Travelers.
  • Aon Corp has hired the former Max Re chief executive Bob Cooney as managing director of its Capital Markets division, the unit which provides structured finance and capital markets products to the (re)insurance industry.
  • Two recent decisions in the US Supreme Court will aid professional liability insurers defending themselves against claims and litigation stemming from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, according to Chubb Corp vice chairman John Dengan.
  • The sub-prime mortgage crisis has had little impact on availability, cost or policy conditions of directors' and officers' (D&O) and errors and omissions (E&O) policies, according to a survey of financial sector risk managers and CFOs.
  • The biggest fraud in investment banking history, at French bank Société Générale, may still result in a loss for the bank's insurers, as employee shareholders filed a lawsuit against unnamed directors at the firm.
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