Leadership changes at Hannover Re & Swiss Re as Wallin set to retire

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The upcoming retirement of Hannover Re CEO Ulrich Wallin means a senior leadership change at the firm and also at its reinsurance competitor Swiss Re, as Jean-Jacques Henchoz of Swiss Re has been named as Wallin’s replacement, while Russell Higginbotham has been named to step in by Swiss Re.

Ulrich Wallin the CEO of German headquartered global reinsurance firm Hannover Re is set to retire as of May 2019, following 35 years at the firm during which time Wallin worked his way up to becoming Chief Executive Officer in in 2009.

Under his tenure Hannover Re has grown from a reinsurance firm underwriting gross written premiums of EUR 10.3 billion to EUR 17.8 billion, while Group net income rose from EUR 700 million to around EUR 1 billion per year. At the same time the Hannover Re share price has more than quadrupled from EUR 27 to EUR 115.

Hannover Re has named Jean-Jacques Henchoz of Swiss Re as Wallin’s replacement and he will take on an Executive Board role from April 1st 2019 and the CEO role as of May 8th 2019 after the Hannover Re annual meeting.

Henchoz comes from Swiss Re where he led the firms EMEA reinsurance division as its CEO. Previously he was CEO of Swiss Re Canada from 2005 to 2010 and had joined the firm in 1998.

Herbert K. Haas, Hannover Re Chairman of the Supervisory Board, stated, “We are profoundly grateful to Ulrich Wallin for his tremendous entrepreneurial achievements. Under his expert and prudent direction Hannover Re has significantly expanded its market position as a leading reinsurer and further enhanced its diversification and sustained profitability. In Jean-Jacques Henchoz we have secured the services of a very seasoned reinsurance manager who will continue to drive the company’s successful development.”

The move by Henchoz to become the Hannover Re CEO has left a hole at Swiss Re, which the reinsurance firm has duly filled from within, naming Russell Higginbotham as the successor to the CEO Reinsurance EMEA role.

Higginbotham has worked at Swiss Re for 24 years in roles spanning a number of business units and geographies. Most recently he was leader of Swiss Re’s global Life & Health (L&H) division, prior to which he has held the roles of CEO of Swiss Re UK & Ireland, CEO of Swiss Re Australia and New Zealand and business lead for the L&H businesses in Japan and Korea.

Swiss Re Chairman, Walter B. Kielholz, said on the news, “Russell Higginbotham has a very strong track record within Swiss Re, making him the ideal candidate to continue leading the growth of our business in EMEA. Over the last few years, he has played a significant role in strengthening our L&H Products segment and improving its contribution to the Group.

“On behalf of the Swiss Re Board of Directors, I would like to thank Jean-Jacques Henchoz for his contribution to Swiss Re throughout the past 20 years. Before becoming CEO Reinsurance EMEA and Regional President EMEA, he held a number of leadership roles across the company with increasing impact over the years.”

Wallin has seen an incredible change in the business model at reinsurance firm Hannover Re, with initiatives such as the firms collateralised reinsurance sidecar and K-Cessions structure, as well as the firms work in the collateralised and catastrophe bond fronting space which now drive significant income for the firm, which are all developments while he was at the helm.

Henchoz is a recognised leader in the global reinsurance space and a worthy replacement that Hannover Re will be pleased to have attracted to the CEO role.

Higginbotham’s appointment to replace Henchoz is a clear demonstration of the strength in-depth at Swiss Re as well.

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