Global insurance M&A unlikely to recover before 2020

Communication or social networking companies could also use M&A to acquire an insurance vehicle and combine it with their high levels of customer insight and trust.

By Ralph Savage

The strategic importance of mergers and acquisitions to insurers across the globe is set to increase, according to a new report.

The report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers argues that while transaction volumes won’t recover along the same lines as during the last decade, insurers will look towards domestic deals and planned international expansion over the remainder of this decade.

M&A levels may not hit previous highs according to PwC

M&A levels may not hit previous highs according to PwC

Nick Page, transaction services partner at PwC, said: “The global insurance industry’s outlook is improving. The mature economies of Europe and North America are moving towards recovery, while the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America continue to grow. A pick-up in global premiums is forecast, but the industry should not expect a return to the old ways. Insurers are operating in a world where the goal of long-term growth seems to be getting further away. Instead insurers face a range of obstacles including persistently low investment yields, tightening regulation and overcapacity in many markets.”

In the short to medium term, low profitability will have a critical effect on insurance M&A. According to Page, weak profitability, closely linked to low investment yields, is encouraging insurers in mature markets to seek domestic deals and to plan international expansion.

“As insurers adapt their business models to this new environment, the strategic importance of M&A will only increase. However we do not expect transaction volumes to recover to their pre-crisis levels. Instead, we predict the next few years will see a quiet revolution in global insurance M&A.”

Key findings from the report, entitled, “Insurance 2020: A quiet revolution – The future of insurance M&A”, include:

  • Technology will play an increasingly important role in insurance deal-making, and insurers are expected to acquire technological expertise, for example, in telematics, as a defensive strategy against disruptive new entrants.
  • Communication or social networking companies could also use M&A to acquire an insurance vehicle and combine it with their high levels of customer insight and trust.
  • Over the next few years the ability to price individuals rather than groups of customers will become an increasingly important driver of M&A.
  • Premium growth in developed markets is slowly recovering from 2010’s low, but remains restricted by slow economic growth.
  • The search for greater scale remains a crucial strategic response to these challenges, and the drive for domestic consolidation will continue to shape global insurance M&A.
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