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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Insurance M&A growth hits four-year high

There was a bigger increase in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) completed by insurers in the first half of 2019 than in any six-month period over the last four years.

Insurers looking to M&A for growth ©iStock
Insurers looking to M&A for growth ©iStock

That is according to a new report from law firm Clyde & Co, which shows that there were 222 M&A deals in the first half of this year, up 13% from 196 in the previous six months.

This is the greatest increase recorded since the first half of 2015, and marks the fourth consecutive six-month period of growth.

Europe experienced the largest increase with 88 deals completed, representing a 40% rise on the 64 recorded in the second half of 2018.

"In Europe, now that the majority of re/insurers are Brexit-ready, they have been able to divert attention towards their growth ambitions," Clyde & Co partner, Ivor Edwards, said.

"Delivering a positive result for shareholders remains challenging and M&A is an attractive strategy to deliver growth for re/insurance businesses around the world."

France saw the largest increase in M&A deals among European countries, and was the second most active worldwide, behind the US but ahead of UK and Spain.

The Americas was the most active region with 93 deals, while the Asia Pacific recorded 38 deals, with Japan the most active country, ahead of both Australia and India.

There were 11 transactions valued in excess of $1bn (£0.83bn) compared to 18 in the whole of 2018, but there is a question mark over whether this trend can continue.

Edwards said: “There is a limited pool of targets at the top end of the market and it may become increasingly difficult for buyers and sellers to come to an agreement on valuation.”

Cross-border M&A activity continued apace with 63 deals, representing 28% of the global total, but it is technology that remains the most important driver.

“Technology can unlock access to new distribution routes, markets and customers while delivering substantial efficiencies," Clyde & Co counsel, Kathrin Feldmann, said.

"We expect to see a continuing surge in InsurTech tie-ups, joint ventures and partnerships, and more involvement from tech companies entering the insurance market.”

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