Morning Briefing: Everest Re Group CEO to leave

Everest Re Group CEO to leave... AM Best predicts rising demand for political risk cover... First Insurance Group parent reveals results... Starwood Capital, Fosun Int poised to bid for Ascendas Hospitality... Pringle joins Securian Financial Services... Texas drives milestone for GEICO... MetLife lures SocGen’s Funk for asset management role... Great expectations for BoC rate cut...

Richard Brown

Everest Re Group CEO to leave
Hamilton, Bermuda-based Everest Re Group CEO/MD Mark de Saram is to step down on April 6, 2016. De Saram joined Everest in 1995 as Vice President of its UK and European operations. He rose CEO of Everest Re (Bermuda) in 2004. He is to be replaced by Sanjoy Mukherjee, currently Executive Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel for the company.

AM Best predicts rising demand for political risk cover
Insurance ratings agency A.M. Best has revealed its top geopolitical risks in the January 2016 issue of Best’s Review  magazine. The edition says an increase in political unrest and a worsening economic situation in some emerging markets are expected to increase the demand for political risk cover.

First Insurance Group parent reveals results
First Defiance Financial Corp. has posted net income for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015 totaled $26.4 million. The Ohio-based firm is the holding company for First Federal Bank of the Midwest and First Insurance Group. First Insurance Group is a full-service insurance agency with six offices throughout northwest Ohio.

Starwood Capital, Fosun Int poised to bid for Ascendas Hospitality
Property investment firm Starwood Capital Group and Shanghai-based insurance-to-fashion group Fosun International are eyeing hotel owner Ascendas Hospitality Trust, according to Bloomberg.

Fosun and Starwood could make offers for Singapore-based Ascendas by the end of January. The target company also has Blackstone Group LP and Hong Kong’s Gaw Capital Partners considering bids for the entity with a market value of S$810 million ($563 million). Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang sparked alarm last month when he went missing and was subsequently found to be assisting authorities with an investigation into Shanghai vice-mayor Al Baojun.

Ascendas Hospitality owns 11 hotels with 4,100 rooms in Australia, China, Japan and Singapore. Its properties include Novotel Sydney Central, Ibis Beijing Sanyuan and Park Hotel Clarke Quay, according to its website.  

Pringle joins Securian Financial Services
Former New York Life and MassMutual senior executive Diana Pringle is the newest associate managing partner of broker-dealer Securian Financial Services for the mid-Michigan area. A financial advisor, recruiter and manager with over 30 years’ experience, Pringle recently opened Securian Financial Advisors of the Great Lakes, offering insurance, investment and retirement planning to individuals and small businesses.

Texas drives milestone for GEICO
Berkshire Hathaway unit GEICO has one million auto insurance policies currently in force in Texas. The record-breaking policy was sold by GEICO sales agent Zachary Field of Dallas. Texas joins Florida, New York and California to reach the auto milestone. GEICO was founded in Texas in 1936.

MetLife lures SocGen’s Funk for asset management role
America’s largest U.S. life insurer, MetLife Inc., has hired Jason Funk to buttress its asset management business for institutional clients in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Formerly with Societe Generale SA’s Lyxor asset management unit, Funk will drive new business development for the New York-based firm from London as a director in MetLife Investment Management’s institutional client group. It services large investors, private pension plans and sovereign wealth funds.

The hire follows MetLife institutional client group luring BlackRock Inc.’s Dhaval Parikh as a director in August. 

Great expectations for BoC rate cut
JP Morgan reports that the value of the Canadian dollar has to drop even further to bolster real economic momentum. Despite reaching a 14-year low against the greenback, the loonie is under further pressure as the Bank of Canada convenes to consider a policy rate cut today (Wednesday 20 Jan).

Speaking to Bloomberg, Daniel Hui, executive director of global FX strategy at JPMorgan, said further weakness in Canadian heavy crude prices, in local currency terms, will threaten the prolonged resilience in [economic] activity. Hui warned of the potential for indebted firms running operational losses will combine with financial contagion in Canada.

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