Minister hails Catlin’s endorsement of island
Ten thousand insurance conference delegates in Boston got a surprise as they awoke to news yesterday that a $1.8 billion insurance and reinsurance start-up is being launched in Bermuda.
For the contingent of representatives from Bermuda, the announcement was an extra boost to what was already shaping up as another successful attendance at the Risk and Insurance Management Society conference and exhibition.
As reported in yesterday's Royal Gazette, Stephen Catlin, who founded Catlin Group, which later became part of XL Catlin and subsequently Axa XL, has a new firm called Convex. It will underwrite insurance and reinsurance in Bermuda and London and is expected to create at least 50 jobs in Bermuda.
Speaking from Boston, Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, said: “I learnt about it this morning. It is a fantastic endorsement of the jurisdiction. Stephen has been in Bermuda for a while with his own company. The fact that he has decided to have another go at it, and bring a number of jobs to Bermuda — it is an endorsement of his belief in what the jurisdiction has to offer.”
Mr Dickinson was expecting the news to create a buzz at a Bermuda-hosted reception last night.
Rims attracts risk-management professionals, legal, compliance and finance directors and senior executives from more than 70 countries. The finance minister was attending the conference for the first time. In the company of Mary Roth, chief executive officer of Rims, and the organisation's president Gloria Brosius, he toured the exhibition hall and visited Bermuda companies and affiliate booths. He was also involved in a round of media interviews.
One topic raised by reporters was the island being put on the European Union's list of noncooperative tax jurisdictions in March, as a consequence of a drafting error in its economic substance regulations submission to the EU.
Mr Dickinson told The Royal Gazette: “They asked what the next steps were. We are just shy of three weeks from May 17 when Ecofin [EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council] will be meeting to make determinations. We feel confident that at the first opportunity we will be delisted.”
He also said Bermuda had been well-received at this year's Rims event.
“Our message is very simple, we are a place that is open to business, and we have a long and demonstrated track record of collaboration between industry, government and regulator. When those three things come together it makes us an ideal platform for anyone who is trying to do good business.”
John Huff, CEO of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, was also delighted by the news that Mr Catlin was creating a new firm domiciled in Bermuda.
He said: “It demonstrates that Bermuda is still a place to start and grow a company. We are thrilled to have Stephen Catlin back and involved. He was a former Abir president. We're optimistic that they will be engaged again with the collective efforts of Abir. Stephen is a great leader, and I look forward to the excitement of a new company.”
One of the themes being talked about at Rims was cyber-risk. Mr Huff said: “It is the fastest growing line of business, and the Bermuda companies in particular are so well positioned. If you look at the top participants with the new data that is out, those are Bermuda companies. There is energy around cyber growing and emerging lines business.”
As in previous year, Bermuda had a prominent, two-level booth on the exhibition floor that acted as a meeting place and information point for anyone interested in what the island has to offer, and to meet representatives of Bermuda's business community and institutions.
Bermuda's presence at Rims is coordinated by the Bermuda Business Development Agency.
Andy Burrows, CEO of the BDA, said: “Interest in the country is good. We continue to be a strategic partner for the US market in particular.”
He said there has been conversations “around what the next wave of risks are in the world, whether it is trade, cyber or technology — and how the Bermuda market has always been innovative and forward thinking in anticipating the next opportunity to expand the market”.
US flooding on coastlines and in the mid-West were among talking points. Mr Burrows said: “The climate change conversation is now coming to the fore. There is an opportunity to introduce Bermuda to that space.”
Regarding Mr Catlin's new venture, he said it showed that mergers and acquisitions did not necessarily cause a decline in business.
“It spurs people who have benefited from the island and understand the Bermuda story, love the proximity of the market, love the innovation, and want to continue in this space and are able to reinvent themselves,” he said.
“So, Stephen Catlin forming a new company, staying in Bermuda and now with a licence to do business and employing 50 people — that in a nutshell is why Bermuda continues to be a strong presence in this space.”
Another member of the delegation was Jeremy Cox, executive chairman of the Bermuda Monetary Authority. He praised Mr Dickinson's handling of media questions about the EU blacklist.
He said: “That question came up, the minister handled it extremely well. He talked about the goodwill that has been established on the latest visits to the EU by himself and the Premier, and the strong hope that very soon Bermuda will be delisted.”
Mr Cox was pleased to see new faces helping to get the island's message out at the Bermuda booth.
“It's wonderful to see such a diverse group representing Bermuda. Having come to Rims so many times, you get used to familiar faces. Perhaps I'm dating myself, but I don't know anyone any more from the booth. It's a new generation of people who are stepping up and representing Bermuda and that's a positive for the country.”
David Burt, the Premier, has joined the Bermuda group for meetings with media and state and city civic leaders, and members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce this week.