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Reinsurer to move headquarters to Switzerland

Tokio Millennium Re Ltd plans to redomicile and move its headquarters from Bermuda to Switzerland — and also set up an operation in the US.

But the reinsurer said it’s committed to maintaining its presence on the Island where it has operated since its launch in 2000.

The reinsurer said in a news release yesterday that it plans to move its place of incorporation to Switzerland “as part of its ongoing commitment to growth and expansion as well as its continued contribution to Tokio Marine Group’s globalisation”.

“The global reinsurance industry is evolving rapidly, which presents many new opportunities for our organisation,” said TMR president and CEO Tatsuhiko Hoshina.

“We intend to continue playing a leading role in the marketplace with a view to further growth and expansion while meeting — and exceeding — our clients’ expectations. This restructuring will provide the platform to do precisely that.”

TMR sees Zurich as its preferred domicile to support its corporate structure, provide greater access to the European reinsurance market and enable continued growth for itself and contribution to Tokio Marine’s globalisation plans.

The re/insurance industry blog Artemis said that while the Bermuda operation will continue to exist and operate as a branch of TMR, “it’s assumed that some back-office and operational functions may eventually follow the redomestication to Zurich but overall changes to the Bermuda branch will likely be minimal”,

Meanwhile RiskMarketNews tweeted in reaction to TMR’s announcement: “Redomesticate to Zurich, open in the US and a ‘branch’ in Bermuda. Proposed US #reinsurance tax change may already be pushing market.”

An industry insider has told The Royal Gazette that jurisdictions like Switzerland and Ireland may be better protected by their tax treaties and political clout than Bermuda is.

The insider said some of the re-domestications over the years “I think are representative of hedging of bets.”

A Bermuda reinsurance advisor said companies may be redomiciling to Switzerland because of its unique treaty with the US that provides benefits such as no Federal excise tax for a Bermuda branch.

“We now have about five companies that have done this,” the advisor said. “A key question is what happens to the company’s senior executive staff.”

Several of the companies that have redomiciled have moved their top executive staff off Island, including Ace and XL, while keeping significant underwriting operations in Bermuda.

Artemis said the recently launched collateralised reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) servicing arm of TMR, Tokio Solution Management Ltd (TSM), will remain in Bermuda, as will its Shima Reinsurance Ltd (Shima Re) Bermuda-domiciled segregated accounts reinsurance company.

“These two firms launched last year to take advantage of the growing activity in the collateralised reinsurance, ILS and catastrophe bond space, offering insurance management and transformer services to facilitate underwriting and investing in catastrophe risk,” Artemis said.

Following the redomestication, the existing Bermuda operation of TMR will operate as one of the largest branches in TMR, the company said.

Tokio Solution Management will also remain in Bermuda as the group’s strategic subsidiary in the collateralised reinsurance market.

To further its geographic diversification, the organisation also said it plans to establish an operation in the United States in the second quarter of 2014.

“Even though TMR is redomesticating to Switzerland, we are committed to maintaining our presence in Bermuda where we have operated since inception,” added Hoshina. “We have an exceptional team here supporting our core catastrophe portfolio and expect that to remain.

“We are very proud of the investment we’ve made in the community of Bermuda over the years and intend to continue doing so.”

Originally established in Bermuda in 2000 to act as a strategic risk diversifier for the Tokio Marine Group by writing property catastrophe reinsurance business outside of Japan, Tokio Millennium Re Ltd has remained at the forefront of the reinsurance industry in Bermuda since its inception. As a subsidiary of the Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co, Ltd, Japan’s oldest and largest non-life insurance company, TMR is primarily engaged in property and casualty reinsurance and market solutions products.

Artemis noted: “A number of Bermudian insurance and reinsurance firms have redomesticated their headquarters to Zurich in recent years, with the stable and attractive regulatory environment and skilled workforce always cited as key reasons.

“At the same time Bermuda has attracted other firms which have moved their headquarter domicile to the island and this country-hopping is part of the ebb and flow of a global market such as reinsurance. Given the changing reinsurance landscape, including the growing influence of third-party capital, relocations such as this will likely be for strategic purposes, perhaps to capitalise on the changes in the market, and we may well see more moves as the market evolves.”

Moving domicile: Tokio Millennium Re Ltd plans to redomicile and move its headquarters from Bermuda to Switzerland

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Published May 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm (Updated May 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm)

Reinsurer to move headquarters to Switzerland

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