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BSX closing the cat-bond gap with Cayman

The Cayman Islands Stock Exchange remains the offshore leader in catastrophe bond listings but the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) has been quietly closing the gap.

The CSX announced yesterday that it had reached 100 catastrophe bond programme and series listings with a total face value of approximately $8.5 billion.

The BSX passed the $3.5 billion mark in insurance-linked securities (ILS) with its 26th listing early this year.

But it is evident that Bermuda has been claiming a substantial share of new business over the past couple of years.

In July 2010, Cayman said it had $7.7 billion worth of cat bonds listed, at a time when Bermuda had $1.17 billion listed. Since then Bermuda has added $2.3 billion to its ILS tally, while Cayman has added $0.8 billion to its cat bond value.

Yesterday, it emerged that Munich Re has established a $75 million catastrophe bond through the Bermuda-based vehicle Queen Street V Re Ltd for hurricane exposure in the United States and for European windstorm.

As previous issuances through Queen Street have been listed on the BSX, it is likely that this one will be too.

The bond has a mature date of April 9, 2015 and a rating of “B-plus” from Standard & Poor’s.

Bermuda emerged as a serious competitor for Cayman in the ILS space after the Bermuda Monetary Authority created a ‘special purpose insurer’ classification, which created a regulatory framework specifically designed for cat bond and ILS vehicles.

Many have argued that Bermuda is a more natural home for the business than Cayman, given that it is one of the world’s leading insurance and reinsurance centres.

Also the BSX is the world’s largest offshore, fully electronic securities market and has been bolstered by an investment last December by the TMX Group, owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange, which bought a 16 percent stake in the BSX.

ILS, which include cat bonds, are instruments that allow investors to have exposure to risks of specified types and scale. Investors risk being wiped out if the bond is triggered by a specified event, but are paid attractive rates of interest for putting their money at risk.

In yesterday’s statement, the CSX also mentioned that Cayman was now home to 739 captives now collecting an all-time high of $11.76 billion in annual premiums.

Bermuda remains well ahead with 862 captives at the end of 2011. In the last full-year figures available, from 2010, Bermuda captives wrote $21.4 billion in premiums. In total, the Bermuda market wrote $107.7 billion in premiums in 2010.

Cayman’s Premier McKeeva Bush has made no secret of his intent to lure Bermuda’s insurance market to Cayman.

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Published February 29, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 29, 2012 at 6:19 am)

BSX closing the cat-bond gap with Cayman

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