Ariel Re ownership change a boost for Bermuda
Bermuda will benefit as Ariel Re again becomes as an independent reinsurer, three years after it was acquired by Argo Group.
The company intends to stay on the island and continue to nurture its already high level of local talent.
Ryan Mather, Ariel Re’s former chief executive officer, is returning to run the business.
He said: “We are taking the majority of the staff, especially in Bermuda where that is very important. We have an existing footprint of Ariel, and we have ambitions to have a much bigger footprint and our chosen destination for that is Bermuda. We are looking to grow that footprint and provide more job opportunities for Bermudian people.
“In Bermuda we will have around 50 staff on day one. We will be looking to augment that team in the coming months. Something like 85 per cent of our team are residents and local people, we have very few work permits.”
It is a new dawn for Ariel, which was founded by Don Kramer as part of Bermuda’s Class of 2005 wave of new re/insurers. It was acquired by Bermudian-based Argo three years ago. Mr Mather was head of reinsurance at Argo until he left this year.
He said: “I left for my own reasons in June, and I was looking to work for a smaller and more entrepreneurial company. At that stage Ariel was with Argo, there was nothing wrong with that, but working in a big corporation isn't what I wanted to do.”
He met up with Jim Stanard, the founder and former CEO of RenaissanceRe, and co-founder of Pelican Ventures. They were planning to start something in Bermuda.
Mr Mather said: “Once we realised that Ariel was for sale, we though that would be the perfect platform for us because it has a history of being independent, entrepreneurial and fast-moving and that was exactly what we were looking for.”
Private equity investors Pelican Ventures and JC Flowers announced this week that they had agreed to acquire Ariel from Argo, and have also agreed terms for an operational partnership with Apollo Syndicate Management Limited to further develop SPA 6133, a Lloyd’s special purpose arrangement focused on property catastrophe reinsurance.
Until the deal closes, which is expected to happen in the next few weeks, Ariel will remain part of Argo.
Kevin Rehnberg, CEO of Argo, said the transaction aligned with his company’s strategy to simplify its business and stream line operations. He added: “Ariel Re is well known in the reinsurance market, and we are confident the business will thrive as part of Pelican Ventures.”
It is understood that Ariel will continue to operate from the Argo offices on Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, although it will seek its own office location.
Mr Mather is looking forward to the challenges ahead, and he referred to the Ariel team as “awesome”.
He said: “I'm super excited, I was proud to do the job under the Argo banner, and I've come back with even more enthusiasm now that we are going to be independent. This is going to present a whole new set of challenges for me, which is exactly what I wanted.”
There also appears to be improving market conditions.
“The market is moving in the right direction for reinsurance, so we are excited, having had a fairly miserable market for the last umpteenth years, all of a sudden we are going to see rate increases and more opportunities,” Mr Mather said.
"We are not the only ones coming into the market fresh. There could even by a class of 2020 or 2021 with some of the other start ups coming to Bermuda, we certainly hope that is the case.“
As for remaining committed to Bermuda. Mr Mather said: “My home is here, we've been here for 18 years now. We've got tremendous local staff. We can hire more people and go from strength to strength here. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that Bermuda was the right place to be.”