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January 2009/4

  • Lloyd's insurer Chaucer Holdings plc confirmed last week that it is looking to raise additional capital after speculation had contributed to a near 40 percent slide in its share price this month.
  • Swiss Re led the slide in European insurance stocks on Friday (23 January) as its share price fell more than 20 percent amid concerns that it is set for a further round of heavy write-downs and may need to raise capital when it reports its fourth quarter
  • Investment bank Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay out $475mn and $75mn to settle two class action lawsuits filed against it in relation to its sub-prime related losses.
  • European insurers' pure solvency ratios are "extremely stretched" and 2009 will be an acutely difficult year for some of Europe's largest market participants, particularly in the life sector...
  • Adding the Madoff scandal to the list of litigation-spawning incidents which have caused a myriad of unprecedented dislocations in the financial system could be "the straw that breaks the camel’s back" for the professional and managerial indemnity markets
  • Max Capital has revealed a negative return of approximately 20 percent on its alternative investment portfolio for 2008, prompting unrealised asset write-downs of around $233mn and a full-year loss and negative net operating return on average shareholders
  • Bermuda-based (re)insurer Arch Capital Group has received approval in principle from the Lloyd's Franchise Board and UK regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to establish a new managing agent and syndicate at Lloyd’s.
  • Bermuda-headquartered Lloyd's (re)insurer Catlin is predicted to swing to a full-year loss for 2008, and may need a capital infusion, according to Numis Securities.
  • Brit Insurance Company appointed JP Morgan Cazenove to become its co-adviser and was rewarded with a downgrade two days later by the firm’s parent company, JP Morgan.
  • The drag of Transatlantic Holdings' relationship with majority shareholder American International Group (AIG) was evident in the downgrade of its core operating companies' financial strength ratings from AA- to A+ by Standard & Poor's last week.
  • Hiscox Ltd, the UK quoted (re)insurance group, has joined a growing number of (re)insurers reporting hardening US catastrophe rates in the key January renewals season.
  • Bermudian-based PartnerRe recorded a 12 percent cancellation rate during its key 1 January renewals; a figure which it said was the lowest seen over the last five years and reflects "a reversal of the trend of increasing client retentions."
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