Conduit Re, a Class of 2021 reinsurance start-up that raised its close to $1.1 billion of capital in an initial public offering (IPO) and listing before it had even underwritten any business, got off to a “flying start” according to its Executive Chairman Neil Eckert.
Conduit Re’s parent Conduit Holdings reported its first set of results this morning, which while not having any underwriting to report for the year to December 31st 2020, gave it another opportunity to explain how the January reinsurance renewals went.
It turns out that Conduit Re focused on quota share reinsurance at the renewals, rather than excess of loss. Preferring to build a pro-rate portfolio for greater diversification in its first renewal season.
Neil Eckert, Executive Chairman of Conduit Holdings, said, “Conduit Re has got off to a flying start. We have launched the business in attractive and improving market conditions. We have already established a top class management and underwriting team. We are embracing the benefits that technology brings for the new generation of reinsurance underwriters and we have established strong relationships with our key trading partners around the market. It is an exciting time to be building a new reinsurance business and we couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to the establishment of Conduit as a new breed of reinsurer.
“In addition, we are working hard on our ESG strategy and we are delighted to announce that Sir Nicholas Soames has agreed to chair the newly established Conduit Foundation, which will engage in both social and environmental projects.”
Trevor Carvey, Chief Executive and Chief Underwriting Officer, added, “Following on from our strong start in the 1 January 2021 renewals, we continue to build out our underwriting portfolio according to plan. We have seen wide acceptance by brokers and clients alike as an attractive and value-adding business partner and we are well positioned to deliver on our stated strategy of building a balanced and diversified portfolio.
“We are the beneficiaries of attractive and improving market conditions in the classes of business we are targeting, which allows us to remain highly selective in the way we deploy our capital, a hallmark of the Conduit Re underwriting philosophy. The underlying pressures driving improvements in both rates and terms are coming from the primary markets and permeating at an increasing rate into the reinsurance markets. We believe this will lead to a more sustained improvement taking into account the many factors that led to deteriorations in industry loss ratios in recent years.
“Consequently, we have been more focused initially on taking a pro-rata share of primary insurance via the underwriting of quota share reinsurance treaties rather than on excess of loss in our early trading. However, we still expect to deliver a balanced portfolio across all classes and territories and we look forward to the upcoming April and mid-year renewals with optimism.”
Elaine Whelan, Chief Financial Officer, also said, “The Group raised a total of £790 million ($1,057 million), net of offering expenses, in the IPO in December but did not begin underwriting until the 1 January 2021 renewals. Our consolidated financial statements for the period from incorporation to 31 December 2020 therefore include mostly the expenses from our IPO and operating expenses from our first month of setting up the business. We have a loss after tax of $4.6 million resulting in a small negative return on equity of 0.4%. Costs directly related to the equity issuance were charged against equity. The loss after tax was driven primarily by payroll, legal and regulatory expenses.
“While it will take some time for us to fully build out our underwriting book, and therefore fully deploy our capital, we are focused on risk selection and will maintain a balanced approach. Conduit is an underwriting business, first and foremost, and that is rightly where our principal focus is. Capital preservation and liquidity will, therefore, remain the primary objective of our investment strategy in order to support our underwriting goals.”
Conduit’s timing was impeccable, in being able to capitalise both on an attractive reinsurance market as well as outsized demand from private equity investors to access opportunities in the space.
The company has made a lot of bold statements about wanting to be different, in terms of its approach and strategy and from now on it will come under a lot of scrutiny to see if it can live up to truly offering its investors an advantaged access point to reinsurance market returns.