Newsmakers

MARSH BUYS HONAN

Global broking giant Marsh has agreed to acquire Melbourne-headquartered Honan Insurance Group.

The acquisition of 100% of the outstanding share capital of Honan includes the 80% holding of private equity firm TA Associates. Terms of the deal, expected to complete later this year subject to regulatory approvals, have not been disclosed.

Founded in 1964, Honan operates across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia with more than 400 employees. It serves more than 30,000 clients from offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Newcastle, Auckland, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.

Honan CEO Andrew Fluitsma says the transaction is good news for Honan’s clients.

MINISTER’S EUROPEAN MISSION

Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) representatives joined Federal Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones in London and Munich in September in a high-level dialogue with global sector leaders described as the first of its kind.

The delegation included ICA President Nick Hawkins (IAG CEO) and CEO Andrew Hall, and board members Sue Houghton (QBE Australia Pacific CEO) and Steve Johnston (Suncorp CEO).

Meetings brought the Government and local insurers together with global reinsurers, brokers, insurers and industry bodies to discuss extreme weather impacts on the Australian market and premiums, and to improve understanding of issues contributing to widening protection gaps locally and around the world.

Mr Jones says the Government is focused on making insurance affordable for Australian households and businesses, especially with natural hazard events on the rise.

“We want the global reinsurers to know about the Government’s program of risk reduction so this can be factored in their pricing for the Australian market,” he said.

Josh Roach

MARSH NAMES NEW REGIONAL CHIEF

Marsh has announced that Josh Roach, pictured, will become Pacific President from January, taking over from Nick Harris who will move to a senior role with the company in the UK.

Mr Roach will be responsible for all aspects of the Marsh Pacific operations, which encompasses insurance and risk advisory services across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Currently, Mr Roach is Marsh McLennan CEO in New Zealand, President of Marsh New Zealand and Chairman of Marsh in Fiji, while previously he led speciality in the Pacific region. He joined the company in 2009 and led its private equity and mergers and acquisition practice across Asia for three years before moving to Australia.

“I think we are all running out of the adjectives to describe the moronic underwriting approach being adopted by some elements of the market.”

Lloyd’s Chief of Markets Patrick Tiernan discusses sharp rate declines and widening coverages in the global directors’ and officers’ market.

MARKEL LAUNCHES LOCAL OFFICES

US specialty insurer Markel is launching in Australia and has recruited Axa XL Head of Long Tail Lines Rory Morison to lead its operations here.

Mr Morison will oversee the business as Markel Australia MD and run the three offices that will open in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Markel Australia says demand is growing for specialty commercial insurance, particularly in casualty and financial lines. The demand is driven in part by the growth of the digital economy alongside traditional industries.

The insurer plans to introduce new products to Australian clients such as its fintech and commtech insurance solutions that are designed to protect fast-growing technology businesses from a range of risks. These risks include professional indemnity, general liability, directors’ and officers’ liability, and cyber.

BUREAU CONFIRMS EL NINO

An El Nino and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are underway, reinforcing the outlook for warmer and drier conditions for much of Australia over the next three months, the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed in September.

The bureau says ocean indicators “firmly exhibit” an El Nino state and there are signs the atmosphere is responding to the pattern of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific.

“This coupling is a characteristic of an El Nino event and is what strengthens and sustains an event for an extended period,” the bureau said. “Climate models indicate this El Nino is likely to persist until at least the end of February.”

El Nino – which translates to “the boy” – was first identified by South American fishermen in the 1600s, when they noticed periods of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean.

The bureau also says the Indian Ocean index has held above a positive threshold for a fifth week, indicating a positive IOD is underway. Models suggest it will persist until the end of spring.

“When a positive IOD and El Nino occur together, their drying effect is typically stronger and more widespread across Australia,” the bureau says.

Australia has already experienced warm winter conditions, which have continued into spring, raising concerns over increasing bushfire risks over coming months.

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