The English High Court found that a current risk of unfair trial in Russia justified declining to enforce Russian exclusive jurisdiction clauses.

By Oliver Middleton and Sean Newhouse

The English High Court has cleared the way for major aviation insurance litigation to proceed in England. In an important judgment on jurisdiction, the High Court refused to stay a group of claims based on the alleged total loss of aircraft formerly leased to Russian airlines. The defendants contended that any such

The proposals would give the Bank of England wide-ranging powers to deal with acute failure scenarios, treating policyholder liabilities as loss-absorbing.

By Victoria Sander and Tim Scott

HM Treasury is proposing a new UK resolution regime for insurers that would appoint the Bank of England as resolution authority with sweeping powers to resolve insurers through transfer or bail-in, and to make resolution plans and assess resolvability in advance. The regime would share many similarities with the Banking Act 2009 (BA09).

FSMA 2023 includes a court procedure for failing insurers to temporarily write-down liabilities, with implications for counterparties.

By Victoria Sander and Tim Scott

The recently passed Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 (FSMA 2023) provides for a new write-down procedure under which failing insurers can apply to court to have their insurance liabilities written down. Write-downs are intended to be temporary (though no period is specified), followed by a subsequent write-up, which is a transfer of the business or application

The judgment clarifies the Court’s approach to proposed transfers under Part VII of FSMA, as well as the scope and application of s. 110(1)(b). 

On 24 November 2021, the High Court of England and Wales (the Court) sanctioned a £10.1 billion annuity book transfer from The Prudential Assurance Company Limited (PAC) to Rothesay Life Plc (Rothesay) under Part VII of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).

The Court previously declined to sanction the transfer following an initial sanction hearing in July 2019. The Court of Appeal then overturned that decision in December 2020 after an appeal by PAC and Rothesay, and the transfer was remitted to the Court for a further sanction hearing between 8-10 November 2021 before the honourable Mr Justice Trower (the Remitted Sanction Hearing). The Court’s judgment following the Remitted Sanction Hearing was handed down on 24 November 2021 (the Judgment), and provides useful guidance on certain aspects of the Part VII process.

Court of Appeal sets out correct approach to transfer of long-term Insurance.

By Victoria Sander, Jon Holland, Alex Cox, and Duncan Graves

Latham & Watkins has won an appeal on behalf of Rothesay Life Plc (Rothesay) in an unprecedented challenge to the High Court’s refusal to sanction the transfer of around 370,000 annuity policies in August 2019 (comprising total policyholder liabilities of approximately £11.2 billion) from The Prudential Assurance Company Limited (PAC) to Rothesay.

The Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s refusal to sanction the scheme in a judgment[1] handed down on 2 December 2020, and set out the correct approach for a court to adopt when dealing with applications to sanction transfers of insurance business under Part VII of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).  The case is the first time an application under Part VII FSMA has been considered in detail by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal held that the judge was “not justified in making an adverse comparison between the financial strength, record and expectations of PAC and Rothesay”; that his reasoning had been based on a misunderstanding of the applicable financial metrics; and that he did not give adequate weight to the views of the independent actuarial expert or the on-going regulatory role of the PRA.  The Court of Appeal also held that, although non-actuarial factors may be relevant to the assessment of some Part VII applications, the subjective choice of provider by policyholders is not a relevant factor to be considered.

How can deal teams capitalise on the latest trend in the deal insurance market to improve bid success?

By Tom Evans, Paul Davies, David Walker, Michael GreenAoife McCabe, Harry Redford, Catherine Campbell, and Amy Watkins

The emergence of contingent risk insurance policies, which address known risks that would otherwise be excluded from coverage under traditional W&I insurance, is an exciting recent trend in the deal insurance market. PE funds that identify previously uninsurable risks through due diligence now have the possibility of transferring such risks to insurers, rather than seeking either a price reduction or escrow retention from the purchase price. Therefore, the use of contingent risk insurance can make a PE fund’s bid more competitive and, as a result, more likely to succeed.

By Drew Levin, Maarten Overmars, and Catherine Campbell

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Warranty and indemnity insurance (W&I) has become a common feature of European transactions in recent years, amid a strong sellers’ market that has enabled vendors to offload risk to buyers. According to the most recent edition of the Latham & Watkins Private M&A Market Study, which examined transactions between July 2016 and June 2018, the proportion of transactions employing W&I has continued to increase — from 8%, 13%, and 22% of deals in the previous three editions of the survey, to 32% for the latest period surveyed. We believe PE deal teams should be aware of changes and enhancements to W&I that will bring insurance coverage closer in line with the US market. In our view, the developments are positive for PE bidders.

The Impact of US Buyers on European W&I Policy Terms

US buyers are very active in the European deal market, and their influence is becoming increasingly evident in W&I terms. US buyers are pushing for more US-like W&I terms on European deals, and the changes have enhanced policies. Insurers are thinking outside of the box and providing new products. We believe US PE bidders will reap the benefits as policies begin to resemble their home market and PE bidders from other jurisdictions will also benefit as terms become enhanced.

By Simeon Rudin and Beatrice Lo

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Recent private equity investments in high-profile deals, such as Bain Capital’s acquisition of esure and Apollo’s acquisition of Aspen Insurance, have brought European insurance sector deal values to record highs. Regulatory changes and regulators’ changing perceptions of PE firms have contributed to increased M&A activity, bringing new opportunities for insurance business investments from buyout firms and increasing competition for insurance assets. In our view, with more PE firms and other new entrants in the market for insurance sector targets, there will be a strategic advantage for firms that are well-prepared and familiar with industry-specific issues, which require navigation to achieve a successful deal.

Drivers of Insurance M&A

The implementation of the European Solvency II Directive (Solvency II) in 2016 introduced major changes to solvency and supervisory regulation for the insurance industry. As the industry has adapted to Solvency II requirements, the process of achieving capital compliance has required that European insurance groups examine their businesses. Such examination has resulted in these groups frequently identifying assets and businesses suitable for divestment. Brexit may lead to further review of assets and capital requirements, which in turn may create sale opportunities — for example, disposals by UK insurers of marginal EU businesses. This shuffling of assets (by sale of companies, transfers, or reinsurance, depending on the circumstances) has created opportunities for private equity to access insurance investments.

Increased competition among insurers and improved policy terms suggest the German W&I insurance market is becoming more favourable to investors.

By Christian Thiele

In real estate transactions, buyers and sellers naturally pursue conflicting interests when negotiating a sale and purchase agreement. On the one hand, sellers will strive to achieve the highest possible purchase price, and will also want to keep their liability exposure low. Private equity investors in particular will try to achieve a “clean exit” when selling real estate directly or indirectly, so that they can dissolve the selling entity quickly. On the other hand, buyers will want to minimize the purchase price. At the same time, they will know the asset only from their due diligence. Therefore, buyers will try to obtain a comprehensive set of representations and warranties from the seller. However, even if the seller gives such representations and warranties, asserting claims will often be unsatisfactory for the buyer because the selling entity lacks assets. The buyer will therefore insist on a security for his claims. These conflicting interests often put a significant burden on contract negotiations and can even turn into a deal-breaker.

Sell-and-buy-side W&I policies

Parties to a deal can secure the buyer’s claims in different ways, such as a purchase price retention or escrow accounts. In the current seller’s market, however, such structures are becoming increasingly rare. So-called warranty and indemnity insurances (W&I insurances), however, are becoming an increasingly popular method of securing the buyer’s claims. Either the seller or the buyer can take out such W&I insurances. If the seller takes out the insurance, the insurer reimburses the seller — similar to a liability insurance — for claims asserted by the buyer. Such policies have risks for the buyer, e.g., if the seller acts intentionally or violates his obligations under the insurance policy and the insurer refuses to reimburse the damage. Sell-side W&I policies, therefore, have almost no practical relevance, at least in real estate private equity transactions. The buyer’s preferred option is the buy-side W&I policy. Such policy grants the buyer a direct claim against the insurer in case of a damage. The buyer, therefore, does not have to assert any claims against the seller. Such policies also cover instances in which the seller has not disclosed the relevant facts and has therefore acted with gross negligence or even intentionally.

By Richard Butterwick, Stuart Alford and Katie Campbell

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Dealmakers’ appetite for transactions involving publicly listed companies remains strong — 2016 saw an increase in deal volume, a trend which continues into 2017. However, deals remain challenging, partly due to limitations on bidder deal protections and financing requirements. In response, innovative products have been developed by the insurance industry of provide solutions. In our view, these insurance products will help some bidders or public companies overcome perceived barriers to success in the UK market.

Takeover Code Requirements

Concern over Kraft’s 2009/2010 acquisition of Cadbury prompted a strengthening of deal requirements from bidders by the Takeover panel. This new approach — which the UK Takeover Code (the Code) enshrines — includes a general prohibition on certain deal protection measures on public acquisitions, such as “break fees”. A break fee is a fee that a seller or target company agrees to pay to another party (typically the bidder), if a specified event causes the transaction to fail. Further, Code cash confirmation rules require bidders to launch offers for public companies with “certain funds” financing in place, that a financial adviser has publicly confirmed to exist.

Combined, these factors influence how prospective bidders approach takeovers. Insurance market innovation has begun to address these issues, developing new products to help de-risk deals and navigate Code requirements.