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Tax plan seen eating into Athene’s earnings

NEW YORK — Shares of Apollo Global Management and other private-equity firms fell after House Republicans introduced a tax plan that throws up a roadblock for Bermuda life insurer Athene Holding Ltd, which accounts for about a quarter of Apollo's asset-management fees.

A provision in the Bill, section 4303, proposes a 20 per cent excise tax on profits moved from US corporations to related foreign entities, which would have a “meaningful impact” on Athene's tax rate, Evercore ISI analysts led by Thomas Gallagher wrote in a note to clients.

The insurer cedes 80 per cent of retail annuity liabilities and 100 per cent of institutional liabilities to Bermuda, Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Ryan Krueger wrote in a note.

“Clearly this could be a negative for Athene, but a lot remains uncertain,” Krueger said. “It's far more complex than this, but if Athene's tax rate moved to 20 per cent” the insurer's 2018 earnings per share would fall 14 per cent, he added.

Shares of Athene began slipping after 12.30pm in New York, eventually falling 12 per cent, their largest intraday decline ever.

Apollo's stock fell as much as 11 per cent, its biggest decline since August 2015. That triggered 4.2 per cent and 3.8 per cent slumps in peers Blackstone Group LP and KKR & Co, respectively. Both firms are also affiliated with insurance operations.

Apollo benefits from Athene in several different ways, including by managing assets for the insurer and by owning stakes directly in Athene and an entity invested in Athene. The stakes were valued at $839 million on New York-based Apollo's balance sheet as of September 30.

The stocks pared their declines at the close of trading, with Athene, Apollo, Blackstone and KKR closing lower by 7 per cent, 3.1 per cent, 1.2 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively.

“It's not clear to us whether there is a high probability of this portion of the Bill getting passed without amendments,” the Evercore ISI analysts said. “Our sense is that there will be considerable pushback on this, and there is a decent chance that it won't be the worst-case scenario for Athene.”

Athene: US tax plan could hit the Bermudian life reinsurer's profits

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Published November 03, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated November 03, 2017 at 12:06 am)

Tax plan seen eating into Athene’s earnings

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