Chinese firm to buy out Ironshore

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  • Bermuda home: Ironshore's Hamilton base is at 141 Front Street

    Bermuda home: Ironshore's Hamilton base is at 141 Front Street

Bermuda-based insurer Ironshore has agreed to be acquired by Chinese investment firm Fosun International Ltd.

In a statement released late yesterday, Ironshore said it had reached an agreement to sell to Fosun the four-fifths of the company that the Shanghai-based firm does not already own.

Fosun completed its acquisition of a 20 per cent stake in privately held Ironshore only in February this year.

Ironshore, which is based at 141 Front Street, started out in late 2006 and has built out a global specialty insurance platform.

Last year, it applied to hold an initial public offering (IPO) of shares, but the plans to go public were put on hold after Fosun came in to buy a one-fifth stake. As of last year, Ironshore had total net assets of $1.84 billion.

Fosun Group is backed by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, its chairman, who expressed great confidence in Ironshore’s management team.

In a statement released through the Hong Kong Stock Exchange yesterday, Fosun said its Mettlesome Investment 2 unit will combine with Ironshore to expand its presence in the insurance business.

Ironshore said in a statement released last night: “The acquisition of the remaining interest in Ironshore will be effected by the merger of an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Fosun International Ltd with and into Ironshore, with Ironshore as the surviving company.

“After giving effect to the merger, Ironshore will be an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Fosun International Ltd.”

Ironshore chief executive officer Kevin Kelley said: “The transition of ownership from private equity to a strategic permanent capital provider with Fosun is a positive milestone for Ironshore.

“Management is very supportive of the Fosun ownership model as it provides a long term strategic partner who will continue to invest in and develop the unique Ironshore brand. Fosun provides Ironshore with further access to global markets and positions Ironshore to take advantage of continued profitable growth opportunities. We look forward to working together with chairman Guo and his dynamic management team.”

As well as its property insurance business and its Iron-Starr Excess Agency joint venture with Starr Insurance & Reinsurance and Hamilton Re in Bermuda, Ironshore has multiple operations in North America, Asia and Europe, and underwrites through the Pembroke Syndicate 4000 on the Lloyd’s of London market.

Fosun, founded in 1992 and listed in Hong Kong since 2007, is a massive conglomerate with substantial interests in steel, property development and pharmaceuticals, as well as insurance, which provides around 13 per cent of its revenue, according to Bloomberg figures. Fosun has more than one third of its total assets invested in insurance businesses.

Mr Guangchang said: “Ironshore’s excellent team has outstanding managing and underwriting insurance capabilities which are widely recognised in the insurance industry.

“Fosun is fully confident about the existing management team and believes that the long-term and stable cooperation with Ironshore is the key and essential foundation to achieve a win-win situation in further exploiting synergies for both parties.

“The acquisition of the remaining interest in Ironshore will further expand Fosun’s insurance business and strengthen the group’s capability to access long-term high-quality capital.”

The Fosun chairman added that “through efforts of both parties and synergies derived from shared resources in various aspects, Fosun hopes to develop higher quality products and services and is committed to supporting the stable and long-term development of Ironshore”.

In its Hong Kong announcement, Fosun added: “The group has been endeavouring determined efforts in establishing insurance as its core business. This acquisition will bring synergies for both parties in prevention of currency risks, expansion of assets allocation and cooperation in reinsurance business.”

Fosun owns Peak Re, a Hong Kong-based reinsurer launched in late 2012, which focuses on Asia-Pacific region business.

In December last year, Fosun entered into a deal to acquire Michigan-based Meadowbrook Insurance Group for $433 million.

It was also reported to be in the bidding for Montpelier Re, before the reinsurer agreed to be bought out by Bermuda rival Endurance Specialty Holdings in a $1.8 billion deal.

Mr Kelley paid tribute to Ironshore’s long-term investors, including Calera Capital, Corporate Partners, GCP Capital, GTCR, Irving Place Capital, Tara Partners and TowerBrook Capital.

Citigroup and Bank of America were Ironshore’s bankers on the deal, and the company got legal advice from Cahill Gordon & Reindel and Kirkland & Ellis, the insurer said in its statement. PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young worked with Fosun, which got legal advice from DLA Piper, according to the statement.

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Published May 4, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated May 3, 2015 at 8:51 pm)

Chinese firm to buy out Ironshore

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