Atlas Magazine November 2015

Reinsurance, the race for size

On the eve of the 2016 treaty renewals, one can but note the high degree of concentration characterizing the reinsurance market. The emergence of new players and markets has never changed the situation.

Neither Bermuda, nor China, nor India seem able to disrupt the hierarchy, established long ago. On the contrary, Munich Re, Swiss Re, the Lloyd’s and other major actors have tightened their grip over the market.

The figures speak for themselves. The world’s first ten major reinsurers are underwriting 70% of all business premiums, a percentage that was only of 28% in 1980. This concentration is progressing even further. By 2014, the five largest reinsurers, combined, account for 55% of the market shares, compared to only 47% a year ago.

Despite these self-explanatory figures: the concentration trend has not lost momentum. Early 2015, mergers-acquisitions picked up with transactions higher in number and amounts than in the past.

For the time being, market leaders are distancing themselves from the trend. Only middle-ranking players are keen on this fierce race for size. For the latter, the equation is simple, it is about a couple of words: growing or disappearing.

Most likely, reinsurance consolidation has not come to an end. Mergers-acquisitions will continue to prevail over the market for the next years with, hopefully, more solid and especially more sustainable companies.

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