Ashurst scoops mandate for reinsurance start-up in Asia

Ashurst has won a major deal acting on the establishment of a new pan-Asian reinsurance business.


Robert Ogilvy Watson
Robert Ogilvy Watson

The firm has picked up a mandate advising Steve Roder, the former finance chief of AIA, who left the insurer when it was in talks concerning a takeover by Prudential. Those talks ­ultimately failed.

Ashurst Hong Kong ­corporate partner Robert Ogilvy Watson is acting for Roder, providing corporate and regulatory advice, as well as assisting in matters related to a fundraising of up to $1bn (£64m).

“It’s a start-up, so I’ll be structuring the transaction, advising on investment and approvals on the process by the Hong Kong regulators,” said Ogilvy Watson.

This comes after the firm has been targeting insurance and reinsurance institutions in Asia since setting up in Hong Kong in 2008.

Ogilvy Watson, who was previously a partner in the firm’s corporate department in London, has handled a number of deals for AIA since moving to Hong Kong in 2009. The firm ­continues to advise AIA as well as Roder.

The firm’s offering in this area was boosted earlier this year by the addition of corporate partner Keith McGuire, who joined the firm’s Singapore office from Allen & Overy. McGuire
has a ­relationship with ­Nomura, which is providing ­financial advice to the new business, enhancing the firm’s ­competitiveness vis-à-vis its rivals. At this stage the Japanese investment bank is being advised by its in-house legal team.

“If I need extra bandwidth I can always ask Keith,” ­commented Ogilvy Watson. “But this is a Hong Kong-based reinsurance company - it doesn’t touch on ­Singapore at the moment.”

The new company is expected to focus on the property and casualty insurance market in ­mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, before expanding across emerging Asian markets.

It would be an unusual move in Hong Kong, where the insurance world is ­dominated by European outfits, Lloyd’s of London and Bermudan companies. However, of late there has been renewed interest in the Asian insurance market from a number of non-­traditional players.