XL Catlin has added two Africa focused underwriters from One Re in a bid to expand into African reinsurance.
The new launch will include both treaty reinsurance and facultative business, David Watson, XL Catlin’s chief executive for reinsurance in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), told Reactions.
“We have a strong relationship with One Re, so we’ve taken on these two people to develop a platform. It’s a treaty and facultative play,” Watson told Reactions.
The two hires are Alex St James and Matthew Gillies. Respectively they become head of XL Catlin’s Africa reinsurance operations. Additionally XL Catlin and actuarial underwriter, effective today.
“The two of them have extensive experience in Africa,” said Watson. “We’ve been very interested in Africa for quite some time, and we currently do some business there.”
While the two One Re hires will be based in London, the move follows XL Catlin’s move into Dubai, a Middle Eastern access point for African business, which Watson cited as successful.
“We set up an office in Dubai for the Middle East, which has acquired good business and is a high performing branch,” said Watson. “We’ve been surprised how successful it’s developed by having dedicated people.”
The move also follows last year’s appointment by XL Catlin of Brendan Plessis in a newly created role of head of emerging markets for the re/insurer.
To start with the new operation will focus on property reinsurance.
“It’s going to be more property orientated than any other line because that’s the bulk of African business,” said Watson.
South Africa represents the bulk of XL Catlin’s African reinsurance book, and Watson said the company wanted to build out its book in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Infrastructure, energy and marine were also mentioned as sources of business.
St James previously worked at gaining UK regulatory approval for One Re, and bringing the company to the market in 2015.
In his two decades of industry experience before One Re, he worked in Mozambique, Angola and Ghana, and is a Portuguese speaker.
Gillies is completing his actuarial qualifications, and before One Re he worked as a pricing analyst at Covéa.
While Watson would not be pressed on the scale of capacity deployed for the Africa launch, he described the move as “part of a long-term play to bulk up in these high growth markets.
“In the short term it isn’t going to move the dial, but we are looking at this as an investment – it’s a three, five, seven year play – because you’ve got to be there,” he added.
XL Catlin has no plans to set up African office branches or for further hires to the team for now, Watson said, adding “but in the long-term, who knows?”
The two new hires report to Watson, starting today.