Covéa in exclusive talks to buy PartnerRe

February 10 2020 by Andrew Tjaardstra

France’s Covéa is in exclusive talks to buy Bermuda-headquartered PartnerRe for up to US$9 billion from its private owners Exor.

Exor’s decision to consider an-all-cash sale comes less than five years after it acquired 100% of the share capital of PartnerRe for US$6.9 billion in 2015.

In 2018 11% of PartnerRe’s US$6.3 billion gross written premiums were written across Asia Pacific – where it has a particularly strong presence in Australia, Japan and New Zealand. The reinsurer has 65 people based in Singapore and Hong Kong and is headed up in Asia by Singapore-based chief executive James Beedle.

Buying PartnerRe would allow Covéa, which is a predominantly French led commercial and personal lines insurer led by chief executive Thierry Derez, to become a more international business. In 2018 Covéa attempted to buy PartnerRe’s rival Scor, of which it is a minority shareholder, but the offer was rebuffed leading to a number of lawsuits which are still ongoing.

A tie-up may be agreed within the next few weeks and no deal is guaranteed with the chance that other firms may jump into the race if things don’t pan out.

After a week of Exor, the holding company of Italy’s Agnelli family, released the following statement over the weekend: “Exor confirms that it has entered into exclusive discussions with Covéa regarding a possible all-cash acquisition of PartnerRe.”

The statement continued: “These discussions are ongoing and there is no certainty that they will result in a transaction. Exor will refrain from further comment until the final outcome of the discussions is known.”

Any move would continue the consolidation of the specialist (re)insurance sector which has seen a number of large deals in recent years including Axa’s US$15 billion acquisition of XL Catlin and Marsh’s deal to acquire JLT.