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CatCo hires veteran executive and prepares for further expansion

Bermuda-based CatCo Investment Management Ltd has appointed Ron Collins as to the newly created role of director of underwriting and more hiring by the young, expanding company is likely.

The recruitment of the reinsurance industry veteran and former senior managing director of Aon Benfield comes as the company builds on a successful first year when it built up its asset base to $1.3 billion.

CatCo’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer Jason Bibb said in an interview yesterday that he expected further recruitments this year for the company, which is based in the Power House on Par-la-Ville Road.

Reporting directly to chief executive Tony Belisle and indirectly to Mr Bibb, Mr Collins will have shared responsibility for CatCo-Re Ltd’s underwriting functions with chief underwriting officer Graham Wood.

All investment portfolios will continue to be managed by Mr Belisle, the company added.

Mr Collins has 30 years of reinsurance underwriting and broking experience, most recently as senior managing director at Aon Benfield, with a focus on the development and execution of various collateralised reinsurance opportunities across the property, marine, aviation and satellite classes of business.

His prior broking experience also included comparable responsibilities at Benfield Group and Willis Re. Previously, Mr Collins was chief underwriting officer of the International Reinsurance division of Reliance National Company.

“We launched in December 2010 with a respectable asset base, but it has grown significantly,” Mr Bibb said. “We are conscious now that we need to build out our overall operational infrastructure.”

He added that he saw Mr Collins as an important addition to the team, who brought significant industry experience. The company had been in discussions with other propospective recruits, whom Mr Bibb hoped would be unveiled in the coming weeks.

In a statement, Mr Belisle said: “To underline the importance of the underwriting approach in deploying our investment strategies, we have created a new position and recruited a highly experienced individual. Having previously been an underwriter and broker for large institutional companies, Ron brings a great breadth and depth of experience to this new role and will be a valuable addition to our team.”

CatCo managed to deliver positive returns to investors last year despite more than $100 billion in industry-wide insured catastrophe losses. He said the growth of CatCo had exceeded expectations and he believes the 2011 baptism of fire had some benefits for CatCo.

“The catastrophic events of 2011 helped us to generate investor interest, largely because of increased pricing, particularly following the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan,” Mr Bibb said. Investors who came in last June had made a 12 percent return in the space of six months, he added.

The company diversifies its retrocessional reinsurance exposure by peril and by geography to protect investors against the impact of a single event. It illustrates to investors the impact on returns that a major historical loss event would have, if it occurred today.

Investors in the CatCo Reinsurance Opportunities Fund Ltd were told in a January bulletin that following a repeat of any one of the largest historical insured events (since 1970), modelled indicative net portfolio returns of at least six percent could still be expected. A no loss scenario would result in a 23 percent return.

CatCo’s capital is fully deployed and Mr Bibb sees no immediate necessity to go back to seek more investor funds.

“We grew significantly last year and we’re very happy with the portfolio we have now,” Mr Bibb said. “I don’t see the need for us to raise more capital now, but if opportunities arise in the reinsurance market and if capacity is short, then we will act accordingly.”

CatCo crew: Pictured (from left) are the CatCo Investment Management Ltd team of chief underwriting officer Graham Wood, CEO Tony Belisle and COO/CFO Jason Bibb

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Published March 06, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated March 06, 2012 at 7:55 am)

CatCo hires veteran executive and prepares for further expansion

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