Global specialty insurance and reinsurance firm AXIS Capital Holdings Limited is acquiring Novae Group plc, the Lloyd’s of London focused diversified specialty re/insurer in a transaction worth $604 million.
AXIS said that the acquisition will add “scale and breadth” to its international specialty insurance business, creating a $2 billion London specialty insurance market operation sitting in the top ten operating at Lloyd’s.
The combined entity will be a global specialty re/insurance business with gross written premiums in excess of $6 billion, based on 2016 figures.
Albert Benchimol, President and CEO of AXIS Capital, commented on the news, “A key component of our growth strategy is to have leadership positions, relevance and scale in each of the specialty risk markets where we choose to compete.
“The acquisition of Novae is a great opportunity to accelerate the breadth and depth of talent, lines of business, and leadership positions that we are developing in the London market for specialty risks, advancing our growth and enabling us to better serve our clients.”
The acquisition news comes at a time when Novae was in the process of taking steps to de-risk itself, which was seen as a way to ease pressure on capital, strengthen its equity and add value to the business.
AXIS said that once the acquisition is completed, Novae CEO Matthew Fosh will take on the role of Executive Chair, Europe, and will report directly to CEO Benchimol.
“By joining AXIS, we are becoming part of a global leader in specialty insurance and reinsurance. AXIS is an ideal partner for Novae’s clients and our employees – and I am particularly enthused for our employees who will benefit from having access to the financial strength of a major global carrier and to the enhanced tools, support and resources required to grow our portfolio of underwriting businesses,” commented Fosh.
Adding, “Our organizations share like-minded corporate cultures grounded in a client-centric, innovative and entrepreneurial mentality. Moreover, our businesses are highly complementary, creating significant potential for our combined platform.”
Fosh will be tasked with helping to guide the integration of the two re/insurance businesses, as well as other responsibilities.
Novae CUO Robert Forster will take on a senior underwriting management role on the AXIS international insurance division leadership team, which is led by CEO Mark Gregory.
“By acquiring Novae, we are strengthening our position in the London market while bringing aboard a complementary business and tremendous talent. Novae is known for its market-leading underwriting talent, who we expect will thrive at AXIS and we are so glad to welcome them to our team,” Peter Wilson, CEO of AXIS Insurance, said.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year once all approvals and closing conditions have been satisfied.
The deal will provide AXIS with additional access to the Lloyd’s of London specialty re/insurance market through the established Novae platform, as well as a number of experienced underwriting teams in specialty lines of business. The scale of AXIS will help the Novae buisness grow and complete any still required rationalisation of its portfolio as part of a much larger underwriting entity.
AXIS has been searching for a suitable partner to add additional scale to its business since the attempted merger with PartnerRe failed to go ahead.
Credit Suisse International and Fenchurch Advisory Partners are assisting AXIS Capital by acting as financial advisors for the purpose of the acquisition transaction.