New Ocean’s McKeown departs, as AXA XL continues ILS growth

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New Ocean Capital Management’s former CEO Chris McKeown has stepped down from his Vice Chairman role to pursue other interests, New Ocean owner AXA XL said today.

axa-logoAXA XL acquired all third-party ownership interests in its already majority-owned insurance-linked securities (ILS) asset management affiliate, New Ocean Capital Management Limited, in November last year.

After that happened it seemed likely that New Ocean would become more focused on helping investors access AXA XL’s risk, rather than being a market-facing reinsurance provider in its own right.

That seems to be the strategic direction that AXA XL is heading in with its growing alternative reinsurance capital business, given its own significant reach into re/insurance markets that means it can source whatever risk its investors require and leverage the efficiencies of the capital markets as a lever across its own business.

The in-house ILS fund manager New Ocean’s assets under management reached $1 billion earlier this year, as AXA XL continued to increase its use of alternative reinsurance capital.

McKeown, has over 30 years of insurance, reinsurance and alternative capital management experience and was the founding CEO of New Ocean in 2013.

More recently, McKeown served as an advisor to AXA XL’s Alternative Capital business and continued to serve as a Director of certain New Ocean managed funds.

So McKeown is now departing the firm, to pursue other interests AXA XL said today.

Daniel Brookman, Head of Alternative Capital at AXA XL, commented, “As we expand AXA XL’s presence in the alternative capital space, we will continue to leverage our internal resources to create additional catastrophe and non-catastrophe portfolios for third party investors in co-participation with the underwriting franchises of AXA XL as well as AXA Group. We wish to thank Chris and his team for their efforts to date.”

Charles Cooper, AXA XL’s Chief Executive, Reinsurance, also said “We are excited about New Ocean’s future as an aligned asset manager, and thank Chris for his efforts in the initial phase of New Ocean’s development.”

An “aligned asset manager” as Cooper puts it offers clear benefits for investors and the aligned owner or sponsor of course. Especially given the preferential access to risk that can be achieved by aligning yourself with a group having the scale of AXA XL.

But it’s not a strategy for everyone though and some ILS end-investors still prefer independent managers. Hence its possible McKeown is leaving to seek out new opportunities in a less-aligned ILS fund manager, given his long background in this market.

With AXA XL set to de-risk more of its catastrophe exposures as it organises itself post-acquisition, the opportunities for third-party investors are likely to grow as the company establishes the optimal way to put alternative capital to use within its global business portfolio..

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