Commentaries

Now raising intellectual capital

Is BlackRock going to rule the world?

It’s amazing how well the company has positioned itself to clean up the mess left behind by the financial crisis. It already has chummy ties with the government, including the Federal Reserve which tapped it to manage and eventually liquidate toxic assets the central bank took on from AIG. It’s also the risk and analytics manager in chief for the Fed’s MBS purchasing program.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is also considering the giant money manager to sub for the rating agencies, which the insurance industry blames for getting insurers into such a pickle with structured finance investments.

BlackRock Inc., which scored multiple government assignments during the financial crisis, is a contender for another prestigious gig: helping state regulators size up risks in insurers’ investments.

The money manager and risk-advisory outfit is among a handful of firms that have talked with officials from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners lately about possibly taking on a slice of work now done by the major ratings firms, according to regulators and an official at the NAIC.

Cat bondage

Catastrophe bond lovers and other insurance-linked securities enthusiasts should take a look at a report on insurance securitisation published today by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS).

There is an interesting section in the report looking at the various cat bonds that have gone pear-shaped since the dawn of the market in the 1990s.

Killing two birds with a partial IPO

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SPORTS YACHTINGBanks and insurers are looking for ways to bolster their capital, while having the flexibility to strike if there are acquisitions to be had on the cheap. To achieve these twin goals, Spain’s Santander and now British insurer Aviva intend to float minority stakes in subsidiaries.

Aviva’s chief executive Andrew Moss, who cut the insurer’s dividend with its first-half result on Thursday, argued that it must be ready to take advantage of acquisition opportunities. Moss plans to float 25-30 percent of Delta Lloyd so that Aviva’s 92 percent owned Dutch insurance unit can take part in the restructuring of the Benelux insurance market.

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