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CEO: Future bright for Axis, come what may

Axis CEO Albert Benchimol

Axis Capital Holdings Ltd will remain a strong company — regardless of whether its planned merger with PartnerRe goes through — the firm’s chief executive officer told employees yesterday.

In a memo to all Axis staff, CEO Albert Benchimol said Axis remained committed to the proposed PartnerRe combination that he said had been welcomed by clients, brokers and staff alike.

“Whatever happens, Axis has a bright future,” Mr Benchimol said in the memo, which Axis filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We are a great company on our own, and were successfully pursuing our own stand-alone strategy when PartnerRe approached us with the proposed merger. We agreed to the merger because it accelerated our strategy, and we intend to work on making it happen.

“But if it doesn’t, we are still the same strong company we were before we announced the merger, and if PartnerRe sells to another party we expect to receive a $280 million break-up fee that would increase our book value by approximately 5 per cent.”

Mr Benchimol, who would become CEO of a combined PartnerRe-Axis, which would be the world’s fifth-largest reinsurer, added: “We are making great strides with the integration work-streams.

“With this latest development, we will re-prioritise integration planning work and specific guidance in this regard will be provided to integration teams this week.”

Mr Benchimol praised Axis staff for their professionalism and “day-to-day excellence”.

He added: “I realise that these continued distractions do nothing to ease what is already an uncertain environment. Mergers of this kind, between two strong, robust and successful independent companies, are by their nature incredibly complex — even without having to deflect unsuitable acquisition proposals by a third party.”