Swiss Re Group’s sale of UK closed book consolidator ReAssure Group Plc to European life and pensions business Phoenix Group Holdings Plc has crossed the finish line, and the new owner shares what’s ahead.
According to Phoenix, ReAssure Ltd chief executive Matt Cuhls will be joining the group’s executive committee while retaining his CEO position. Cuhls has been with ReAssure and its predecessor firms since 2000, and was there when the company was acquired by Swiss Re more than one and a half decades ago.
“Thank you to my friends and colleagues in Swiss Re who’ve helped make the last 16 years so enjoyable – I wish you all well,” wrote Cuhls on LinkedIn. “Swiss Re is a fabulous company and I have been proud to have been part of its recent history.
“We look to the future with no small degree of excitement – in Phoenix we are clearly joining a strong team and we collectively will have a huge range of capabilities and a real opportunity to do great things for our 14 million customers.”
The ReAssure swoop makes Phoenix the biggest retirement and savings provider in the UK, with assets under administration of approximately £330 billion.
In a release, CEO Andy Briggs stated: “The transaction marks another significant milestone on Phoenix’s growth journey further strengthening the group’s key attributes of cash, resilience, and growth and establishing the group as the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business.”
In June it was announced that, subject to completion of the deal, ReAssure’s Michael Eakins was coming onboard to serve as group chief investment officer – a newly created role at Phoenix. In a separate development prior to finalising the acquisition, Phoenix snapped up Aviva alumnus Andy Curran last month to take on the roles of CEO savings and retirement for the UK and Europe, and group director for Scotland.
Meanwhile applications have been made to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for the 277,277,138 new ordinary shares of Phoenix, which are being issued to Swiss Re as part consideration for the purchase, to be admitted to the premium listing segment of the FCA’s Official List and to trading on the LSE’s main market for listed securities.
Phoenix said the admission is expected to become effective at 8am BST today (July 23).
The group added: “Pursuant to an agreement between the Swiss Re Group and MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Inc., upon admission the Swiss Re Group will transfer 144,877,304 shares representing approximately 14.5% of the enlarged share capital of Phoenix to MS&AD.”
In line with the transaction and effective when the abovementioned new ordinary shares are admitted, Phoenix has also appointed Christopher Minter and Hiroyuki Iioka as non-executive directors. They are nominees of Swiss Re and MS&AD, respectively.
Minter is the head of principal investments & acquisitions at Swiss Re, while Iioka is MS&AD’s senior general manager for the business development department. Their arrival will coincide with the board exit of Campbell Fleming, a nominee of Phoenix strategic partner Standard Life Aberdeen.
“Following admission,” explained Phoenix, “Standard Life Aberdeen’s shareholding will be reduced resulting in Standard Life Aberdeen being entitled to nominate only one director instead of two on the Phoenix board.”
Meanwhile ReAssure has offered assurances that the company’s change in ownership will have no direct impact on customers, other than the benefits of being part of a larger group with complimentary skills and experience.