Bermuda’s first-quarter deals reach $19bn

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Bermuda logged takeover deals worth $19 billion in the first three months of this year — the highest total among offshore centres.

A report by top legal firm Appleby said the figure represented more than a quarter of all offshore transactions and was 81 per cent up on the same period last year.

Appleby’s ‘Offshore-i’ report said three mega-mergers — all among the top ten worldwide — were major contributors to the total.

Axis Capital and PartnerRe agreed to join forces in a deal which would create a capitalisation of $11 billion and the fifth-largest reinsurance company in the world.

XL Group bought up Catlin for $4.2 billion, while Endurance agreed to take over Montpelier Re in a transaction worth $1.8 billion.

Appleby partner and group head of corporate in Bermuda Timothy Faries said: “The boom in insurance deal activity has been going on for a few quarters now and continues to accelerate, particularly in the US, and in Bermuda from an offshore perspective.

“The activity is driven by acquirers’ desire to achieve scale and efficiencies in changing market conditions.”

Worldwide, first-quarter total deals amounted to a massive $68.3 billion — with the average size of each among the highest on record.

There was a total of 537 deals done in the first three months of 2015, down almost a quarter on the last three months of 2014.

But the deal value came in as one of the highest in the last decade.

The Appleby report said: “While there was a significant drop in the number of transactions across the jurisdictions examined when compared to the previous quarter, the total deal value remained level due in part of three megadeals each worth in excess of $5 billion.”

Cameron Adderley, Appleby partner and global head of corporate, said: “The result, clearly, is a bumper average deal size, which has been topped in only two quarters over the past decade.”

The global average deal size was $127 million, with 14 deals worth more than $1 billion each.

The report said: “Low interest rates and cash on balance sheets have helped drive big deals, while mergers and acquisitions have proved a quick way to add revenue at a time when existing markets are mature or subdued and opportunities for growth appear limited.”

It added: “There is also evidence that the rise of the megadeal is a global phenomenon that may be driven by more targeted merger and acquisition decision-making post-crisis, with acquirers willing to make sizeable investments, but only after scrupulous analysis of targets.”

The financial and insurance sector was the main area for activity, while capital increases were the most popular deal type, closely followed by acquisitions, which similarly represent about a third of total deal volume and acquisitions dominated by deal value.

The first quarter was also one of the busiest ever recorded for outbound deals involving offshore acquirers, with 542 outbound deals worth $84.7 billion, the second highest quarterly total ever recorded.

The Appleby report said: “The offshore region remains ranked sixth in the world by deal volume for quarter one of 2015 and stays in fourth place for value activity.

“By average deal size, the region rose to second worldwide, behind only North America, as a result of the run of megadeals using offshore jurisdictions.”

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Published May 20, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated May 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm)

Bermuda’s first-quarter deals reach $19bn

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