Sompo to buy Endurance as it expands abroad

BALANCING ACT::The Japanese insurer is joining peers such as Sumitomo Life in venturing overseas to offset slowing growth in the domestic market


Thu, Oct 06, 2016 - Page 10

Sompo Holdings Inc has agreed to buy Bermuda-based insurer Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd for about US$6.3 billion, the company’s biggest acquisition as it expands further outside of Japan.

The Tokyo-based insurer offered US$93 a share in cash for Endurance, 43 percent more than Monday’s closing price of US$64.96.

The acquisition is subject to the approval of Endurance’s shareholders and Sompo plans to complete the purchase by March next year, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement yesterday.

Sompo, which largely sat out a multibillion-dollar acquisition spree by its peers in the past two years, is now joining other Japanese insurers in expanding abroad to counter slowing growth at home.

Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co bought Protective Life Corp last year, while Sumitomo Life Insurance Co agreed to purchase Symetra Financial Corp for about US$3.8 billion.

The offer price “is on the high end of the range, because you usually pay a 30 percent to 40 percent premium on a regular M&A [merger and acquisition],” said Steven Lam (林俊傑), a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “Japanese insurers don’t seem to be good at bargaining.”

Endurance shares surged 35 percent in New York on Tuesday after the Nikkei Shimbun reported a deal was imminent and the insurer confirmed it was in talks with the Japanese firm.

Sompo closed up 2.7 percent in Tokyo trading yesterday.

Endurance, which has operations in the US, the UK and Bermuda, writes property-casualty policies for risks such as agriculture, marine and energy. The company also has reinsurance units, which help provide coverage for primary insurance carriers.

Led by CEO John Charman, Endurance has been expanding through acquisitions after going public in 2003, including last year’s purchase of Montpelier Re Holdings Ltd.