In the first and so far last of our series of interviews with people of interest in the insurance and ERISA communities (I will do more at some point, but the interview post turns out to be the most difficult and time consuming to do well, which is probably why most people leave them to professional journalists turned bloggers like Peter Lattman at the WSJLaw blog, who do them really, really well), veteran insurance executive Robert Kingsley discussed the pace of consolidation in the insurance industry. Asked whether he saw that trend continuing, Robert noted that “there is little doubt the pace of consolidation will accelerate” and explained that in an industry, such as insurance, flush with capital, consolidation was inevitable. Robert had more to say on the subject, and you can find it here.
I am reminded of Robert’s comments by this story here in Massachusetts, that Spain’s largest insurer has now offered to pay $2.2 billion for comparatively small Massachusetts insurer Commerce, with the intention of using it as a platform to grow its business in the American market. Commerce was previously known primarily as a Massachusetts company focused on automobile insurance.
One of the interesting aspects about the news coverage of the Commerce acquisition is that the Spanish insurer, Mapfre, already operates in some 40 countries, but has a relatively small footprint in the United States and intends to use the purchase as a primary vehicle to expand its operations here. As Robert pointed out in the interview he did for this blog, insurers are making growth promises to investors that cannot be met by organic growth, which is driving the need to grow through acquisitions; that drive to grow appears to have played a large role in this purchase as well.