Argo continues re-rigging for future
The reinvention of Bermudian-based Argo Group International Holdings Ltd appears a long way from being complete.
The company published an investor presentation, providing an update regarding its ongoing review of strategic alternatives.
The presentation also provides additional details on Argo’s recently announced transactions with US-based Westfield and island-based Enstar Group Limited.
Tom Bradley, Argo’s executive chairman and chief executive officer, said: “Argo’s inherent value as a pure-play, US underwriter of specialty insurance has never been more evident than today.
“Our board is confident in the simplified corporate structure and strong fundamentals of our core US specialty businesses following our recently announced transactions with Westfield and Enstar.
“As we look ahead, we continue to consider a range of options to maximise shareholder value through the ongoing strategic review process.”
As announced on Thursday, Argo has entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of Argo Underwriting Agency Limited and its Lloyd’s Syndicate 1200 to US-based Westfield Specialty for total cash proceeds of approximately $125 million.
The company said that represents 1.16x price to tangible book value or 0.81x price to book value as of first quarter 2022, subject to closing-related adjustments.
The sale of Argo’s Lloyd’s business is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the first half of 2023.
The announcement with Westfield follows Argo’s entry into a loss portfolio transfer transaction with Enstar last month.
Pursuant to the LPT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enstar will reinsure the majority of Argo’s direct US casualty insurance reserves from accident years 2011 through 2019.
The LPT transaction is expected to improve Argo’s regulatory capital position and provide protection against reserve volatility.
The closing of the LPT transaction with Enstar is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the second half of the year.
As announced in April, the company’s board of directors initiated an exploration of strategic alternatives to be overseen by the board’s strategic review committee.
Activist investor J. Daniel Plants is chairman of the committee.
Mr Plants said: “As I stated upon joining the board last month, I fully support the exploration of strategic alternatives to maximise value for all Argo shareholders.
“The recently announced sale of Syndicate 1200 is another positive step forward in that process and was taken with an eye towards its positive impact in broadening the range of additional strategic options available to the company.
“As such, Argo’s comprehensive review of strategic alternatives is ongoing, and I appreciate the trust and confidence of my board colleagues in appointing me to chair the strategic review committee.”
Argo said the recently announced transactions with Westfield and Enstar are a result of this ongoing strategic review process.
It added that the board is continuing its exploration of strategic alternatives, including, among other things, a potential sale, merger or additional strategic transactions.
Goldman Sachs, the investment bankers, and law firm Skadden Arps are advising the board in its review of strategic alternatives.
Meanwhile, Westfield announced that Graham Evans will be joining the company as Westfield Specialty executive vice-president and head of international insurance.
Mr Evans will be tasked with building Westfield Specialty’s international business, a new international platform offering multi-line capabilities.
He will also lead the integration of Lloyd’s Syndicate 1200.
Mr Evans was most recently head of international insurance at Sompo International until his departure in 2020.
Prior to his tenure at Sompo, he held several underwriting and management positions in the London Specialty market including Axis Capital, where he served as president, professional lines.