Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings is to buy the 7.8% stake Patinex AG holds in French reinsurer Scor for an estimated $500m. The Japanese insurer, which gained an interest in the London market through the acquisition of Canopius early last year, said that it hoped to increase its stake in Scor to at least 15%.
Scor's reaction Friday morning was cool. It noted that it was not a party to the transaction and appeared to state that it was informed of the deal-signing only after it had taken place.
Scor said that, as "an independent company" it welcomed Sompo as a long-term shareholder, "with the same rights and duties as all its shareholders". If Sompo's stake reaches 15%, it would be entitled to nominate a member of the Scor board.
Patinex is a Swiss financial investor led by Martin Ebner and formed in 1998. It has been Scor's largest shareholder since 2007.
Scor's share price was up by a fraction over 2% in early trading, to just over €30. In the early 2000s Scor had financial problems, necessitating an at par rights issue, and the share price declined to a little over €2. Since then, particularly under the leadership of Denis Kessler, the reinsurer has recovered strongly to be a significant player in the traditional global reinsurance industry.