Guy Carpenter positive on catastrophe bonds in end of 1st quarter update

by Artemis on April 14, 2010

Guy Carpenter has released it’s first quarterly catastrophe bond market update for 2010. The report is available in full on the GCCapitalIdeas.com blog and it makes good reading.

Overall their impressions of the first quarter are positive and they confirm that demand has been strong although issuance has been slightly lower than we all initially expected for the start of 2010.

Their outlook for the 2nd quarter of 2010 is extremely positive. They say that we should expect anywhere between 5 and 10 new transactions during this period. Should that be at the higher end of expectations then it will be interesting to see whether the huge investor interest the market is attracting translates into actual investments and whether that many deals can complete. We already know of three deals in the early stages of marketing for this quarter and we hear others are to be announced shortly so it could be a busy quarter. For all those deals to complete successfully we will need to see a good variety of perils being covered to allow investors to diversify their insurance-linked security portfolios. Guy Carpenter also foresee more activity throughout the rest of this year.

Of course the catastrophe bond market is a fickle beast and we’ve had predictions of high-volume quarters before which end up being disappointing. 2010 is certainly going to be an interesting year for the market and extremely important for its future.

Here’s a copy of the press release from Guy Carpenter. Don’t forget to read the report in full here.

Positive Conditions Persist in Catastrophe Bond Market During First Quarter of 2010, According to Guy Carpenter

Strong Demand Results in Two Upsized Transactions; Issuance Activity Lighter Than Expected, But Outlook Remains Bullish

New York, April 13, 2010
Catastrophe bond issuance conditions saw sustained improvement in the first quarter of 2010, reflecting the increase in prominence of the insurance linked securities (ILS) asset class, according to a briefing issued today by Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC, and GC Securities, a division of MMC Securities Corp.* Despite the continued improvement in market conditions, however, catastrophe bond issuance relative to the first quarter of 2009 was lighter than might have been expected.

The briefing, Cat Bond Update: First Quarter 2010 (available at www.GCCapitalIdeas.com), states that sponsors posted two catastrophe bond transactions during the first quarter of 2010, resulting in USD300 million of risk capital issued. Responding to strong investor demand, both transactions closed within initial price guidance and were upsized relative to their announced placement targets. By comparison, the first quarter of 2009 saw three transactions totaling USD575 million in risk capital issued.

FIRST QUARTER ISSUANCE

  • Foundation Re III Ltd, a USD180 million transaction, was announced in January. Sponsored by The Hartford, it provides PCS-index-based protection for North Atlantic hurricanes causing insured losses along the U.S. gulf and eastern coasts. GC Securities served as co-manager on the transaction, which was upsized from the initially announced target of USD100 million.
  • Swiss Re’s USD120 million Successor X Ltd transaction provides multi-peril protection with different trigger types and different risk profiles, depending on tranche. The bond priced at initial guidance and also was upsized from an initial target size of USD75 million. It was the first catastrophe bond to utilize a PERILS-based trigger for its European windstorm exposure. (Guy Carpenter is a founding shareholder of PERILS, which aggregates and distributes industry-wide European natural catastrophe insurance data.)

RISK CAPITAL OUTSTANDING

  • Total risk capital outstanding declined during the first quarter to USD 11.92 billion – a decrease of USD588 million, as USD300 million of new issuance was outstripped by USD888 million in maturities.
  • USD4.08 billion of risk capital is scheduled to mature prior to the end of 2010.

ISSUANCE COMPOSITION

  • Of the USD300 million issued in the first quarter of 2010, USD180 million had exposure exclusively to U.S. hurricane peril, while USD80 million had exposure to both U.S. hurricane and European windstorm perils.
  • An additional USD40 million had exposure to U.S. hurricane, European windstorm, California earthquake and Japanese earthquake perils.

INDUSTRY LOSS WARRANTIES

  • ILW pricing fell by 20 percent for U.S. hurricane-only and by 30 percent for U.S. earthquake-only protection.
  • Mindful of market conditions, protection sellers offered substantial reductions to secure renewal orders.
  • All sellers, with the exception of IPC Re, returned to the ILW market in 2010.

2010 CATASTROPHE BOND OUTLOOK

  • Cat bond spreads are roughly approximate with the traditional market and are acting as a spur to further issuance.
  • Though the rate of spread tightening may moderate, net cash inflows to sector – coupled with more than USD4 billion of scheduled maturities – should continue to exert downward pressure on spread levels.
  • Losses resulting from events such as the earthquake in Chile and European storm Xynthia have exerted a strain on reinsurers’ earnings but have not put cat bond layers in jeopardy.
  • Taking all factors into consideration, the second quarter of 2010 should prove significantly more active than the first, with the potential for 5 to 10 transactions, while total issuance for the year is expected between USD3 billion and USD5 billion.

QUOTES

David Priebe, Chairman of Global Client Development, Guy Carpenter
“Though we have continued to see issuance conditions improve across the ILS market, there was somewhat less activity during the first quarter than many had anticipated. However, this should not be taken as an indicator of what to expect over the coming months, as the peak issuance periods for catastrophe bonds historically have been the second and fourth quarters. Our outlook for the remainder of the year remains bullish.”

Chi Hum, Global Head of Distribution, GC Securities
“The argument in favor of locking significant amounts of multi-year fixed price capacity has become even more compelling in the context of the earthquake and winter storm activity we witnessed during the first quarter of the year. With this in mind, our issuance outlook for the second quarter of 2010 is positive, with between 5 to 10 new transactions expected across a wide variety of perils. We also anticipate more activity later in the year.”

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