As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 29, 2019
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FOR REGISTRATION OF SECURITIES
PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Watford Holdings Ltd.
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)
(State or other jurisdiction
of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification Number)
Waterloo House, 1st Floor
100 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke HM 08
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code +1 441 278-3455
Securities to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class to be so registered
Name of each exchange on which
each class is to be registered
Common shares, par value $0.01 per share
The NASDAQ Global Market
Securities to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ☐
Accelerated filer ☐
Non-accelerated filer ☒ (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
Smaller reporting company ☐
Emerging growth company ☒
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Watford Holdings Ltd. is filing this General Form for Registration of Securities on Form 10 to register our common shares, par value $0.01 per share, pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, because we are seeking to list our common shares on The NASDAQ Global Market. We have applied to list our common shares on The NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “WTRE.” We refer to the initial listing of our common shares on The NASDAQ Global Market throughout this registration statement as the “listing.”
Our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, including this registration statement, are available, free of charge, on the SEC’s website, www.sec.gov.
Once this registration statement becomes effective, we will become subject to the information and periodic reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, and will file annual, quarterly and other periodic reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. These periodic reports and other information will be available on the SEC’s website referred to above.
We maintain a website at http://www.watfordre.com/. Once this registration statement becomes effective, we will make the information filed with or furnished to the SEC available free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Information contained in, included or referred to on, or accessible through, our website or any other website is not incorporated by reference into and does not constitute a part of this registration statement or any other report or documents we file with or furnish to the SEC.
Except as otherwise indicated, the information in this registration statement assumes the effectiveness of our amended bye-laws immediately prior to the listing of our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Market.
Implications of being an emerging growth company
As a company with less than $1.07 billion in revenue during our last fiscal year, we qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act. An emerging growth company may take advantage of specified reduced reporting requirements and is relieved of certain other significant requirements that are otherwise generally applicable to public companies. As an emerging growth company:
we are exempt from the requirement to obtain an attestation and report from our auditors on the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act;
we are permitted to provide less extensive disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements; and
we are not required to give our shareholders non-binding advisory votes on executive compensation or approval of golden parachute arrangements.
We may take advantage of these provisions for up to the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of our completion of an initial public offering or such earlier time that we are no longer an emerging growth company. We will cease to be an emerging growth company upon the earliest of (i) the last day of the first fiscal year in which our annual gross revenues exceed $1.07 billion, (ii) December 31 of the fiscal year that we become a “large accelerated filer” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of our common shares held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter and we have been publicly reporting for at least 12 months or (iii)
the date on which we have issued more than $1.07 billion in non-convertible debt during the preceding three-year period.
We may choose to take advantage of some but not all of these reduced burdens. We have taken advantage of reduced reporting requirements in this registration statement. Accordingly, the information contained herein may be different from the information prospective investors receive from our competitors that are public companies, or other public companies in which prospective investors have made an investment.
Certain defined terms
Unless the context suggests otherwise, any reference in this registration statement to:
“ACGL” refers to Arch Capital Group Ltd. and its controlled subsidiaries;
“Arch” refers to any one or more of the following direct or indirect subsidiaries of ACGL, as applicable in the context in which such term appears:
Arch Capital Services Inc., or ACS, which is a party to a services agreement with Watford Holdings (U.S.) Inc.;
Arch Insurance Group Inc., or AIGI, which is a party to certain quota share agreements with one or more of our operating subsidiaries;
Arch Investment Management Ltd., or AIM, which manages the majority of our investment grade portfolio;
Arch Reinsurance Company, or ARC, which is a party to certain quota share agreements with one or more of our operating subsidiaries and a services agreement with Watford Holdings (U.S.) Inc.;
Arch Reinsurance Europe Underwriting Designated Activity Company (formerly known as Arch Reinsurance Europe Underwriting Limited), or ARE, which is a party to certain quota share agreements with one or more of our operating subsidiaries;
Arch Reinsurance Ltd., or ARL, which is a party to certain quota share agreements with one or more of our operating subsidiaries and owned approximately 11% of our outstanding common shares as of September 30, 2018;
Arch Underwriters Inc., or AUI, which manages the underwriting business of our U.S. operating subsidiaries;
Arch Underwriters Ltd., or AUL, which manages the underwriting business of our non-U.S. operating subsidiaries, including Watford Re;
our “Investment Managers” refers to AIM, HPS or any other third-party investment managers that manage our investment grade portfolio or our non-investment grade portfolio from time to time;
“HPS” refers to HPS Investment Partners, LLC (formerly known as Highbridge Principal Strategies, LLC), which manages our non-investment grade portfolio;
“Watford,” “we,” “us” and “our” refers to Watford Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiaries;
“Watford Holdings” refers to our company, Watford Holdings Ltd., a Bermuda exempted company;
“Watford Holdings U.S.” refers to Watford Holdings (U.S.) Inc., a Delaware company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company;
“Watford Trust” refers to Watford Asset Trust I, a statutory trust organized under the laws of the State of Delaware;
“Watford Re” refers to Watford Re Ltd., a Bermuda domiciled insurance company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company;
“WIC” refers to Watford Insurance Company, a New Jersey domiciled insurance company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company;
“WICE” refers to Watford Insurance Company Europe Limited, a Gibraltar domiciled insurance company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company; and
“WSIC” refers to Watford Specialty Insurance Company, a New Jersey domiciled insurance company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company.
Certain abbreviations and definitions of certain insurance, reinsurance, financial and other terms used in this registration statement are defined in the “Glossary of Selected Reinsurance, Insurance and Investment Terms” section of this registration statement.
Registered trademarks and trademark applications
“Watford” and “Watford Re” are the subject of trademark registrations in the United States. Other brands, names and trademarks contained in this registration statement are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks and trade names are referred to in this registration statement without the SM and ® symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that the owner thereof will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, such owner’s rights to these trademarks, service marks and trade names.
Market and industry data and forecasts
Certain market and industry data and forecasts included in this registration statement were obtained from independent market research, industry publications and surveys, governmental agencies and publicly available information. Industry surveys, publications and forecasts generally state that the information contained therein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but that the accuracy and completeness of such information is not guaranteed. We have not independently verified any of the data from third-party sources, nor have we ascertained the underlying assumptions relied upon therein. Similarly, independent market research and industry forecasts, which we believe to be reliable based upon our management’s knowledge of the industry, have not been independently verified. While we are not aware of any misstatements regarding the market or industry data presented herein, our estimates involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, including those discussed under the heading “Item 1A. Risk Factors.”
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This registration statement contains forward-looking statements that are intended to enhance the reader’s ability to assess our future financial and business performance. These statements are based on the beliefs and assumptions of our management, and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Generally, statements that are not about historical facts, including statements concerning our possible or assumed future actions or results of operations are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements that represent our beliefs, expectations or estimates concerning future operations, strategies, financial results or performance, financings, investments, acquisitions, expenditures or other developments and anticipated trends and competition in the markets in which we operate. Forward-looking statements can also be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “believes,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “estimates,” “expects,” “should” or similar expressions. For example, under “Item 1. Business-Recent Developments,” we have included certain preliminary estimates of our financial and operating results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2018. The estimates presented have not been audited, reviewed, compiled, nor have agreed-upon procedures been applied with respect to the preliminary financial data.
Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance and we caution prospective investors not to rely on them. Because these forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions that are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control or are subject to change. Actual results or other outcomes could differ materially from those expressed or implied in our forward-looking statements, as a result of several factors, including the following:
our limited operating history;
fluctuations in the results of our operations;
our ability to compete successfully with more established competitors;
our losses exceeding our reserves;
downgrades, potential downgrades or other negative actions by rating agencies;
our dependence on key executives and inability to attract qualified personnel, or the potential loss of Bermudian personnel as a result of Bermuda employment restrictions;
our dependence on letter of credit facilities that may not be available on commercially acceptable terms;
our potential inability to pay dividends or distributions;
our potential need for additional capital in the future and the potential unavailability of such capital to us on favorable terms or at all;
our dependence on clients’ evaluations of risks associated with such clients’ insurance underwriting;
the suspension or revocation of our subsidiaries’ insurance licenses;
Watford Holdings potentially being deemed an investment company under U.S. federal securities law;
the potential characterization of us and/or any of our subsidiaries as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC;
our dependence on Arch for services critical to our underwriting operations;
changes to our strategic relationship with Arch or the termination by Arch of any of our services agreements or quota share agreements;
our dependence on HPS and AIM to implement our investment strategy;
the termination by HPS or AIM of any of our investment management agreements;
risks associated with our investment strategy being greater than those faced by competitors;
changes in the regulatory environment;
our potentially becoming subject to U.S. federal income taxation;
our potentially becoming subject to U.S. withholding and information reporting requirements under the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, provisions; and
the other risks identified in this registration statement, including, without limitation, those under the sections titled “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” “Item 2. Financial Information-Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Item 1. Business.”
Consequently, such forward-looking statements should be regarded solely as our current plans, estimates or belief as of the date of this registration statement. We do not intend, and do not undertake, any obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect future events or circumstances after the date of this registration statement. Given such limitations, prospective investors should not rely on these forward-looking statements in deciding whether to invest in our common shares.
Prospective investors should review carefully the section captioned “Item 1A. Risk Factors” in this registration statement for a more complete discussion of risks and uncertainties relating to an investment in our common shares.
Item 1. Business
We are a global property and casualty, or P&C, insurance and reinsurance company with approximately $1.2 billion in capital as of September 30, 2018 and with operations in Bermuda, the United States and Europe. Our strategy combines a diversified, casualty-focused underwriting portfolio, accessed through our multi-year, renewable strategic underwriting management relationship with Arch, with a disciplined investment strategy comprising primarily non-investment grade corporate credit assets, managed by HPS Investment Partners, LLC, or HPS. We have designed our investment strategy to complement the characteristics of our target underwriting portfolio in order to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for our shareholders. Our strategy involves a greater degree of investment risk balanced with a less volatile underwriting portfolio, especially in relation to the amount of catastrophe exposure we assume, as compared with traditional insurers and reinsurers.
We were formed in Bermuda in the second quarter of 2013. In March 2014, we raised $1.1 billion in our initial funding and began underwriting reinsurance in the first half of 2014. Our operating subsidiaries all carry a financial strength rating of “A-” (Excellent) with a stable outlook from A.M. Best Company, or A.M. Best, which is the fourth highest of 15 ratings that A.M. Best confers. Each of our operating subsidiaries also carries a financial strength rating of “A” with a stable outlook from Kroll Bond Rating Agency, or KBRA, which is the sixth highest of 22 ratings that KBRA confers. These ratings are each intended to provide an independent opinion of an insurer’s ability to meet its obligations to policyholders and are not ratings of our common shares.
We manage our insurance and reinsurance underwriting through our relationship with Arch, which, through Arch Reinsurance Ltd., or ARL, is one of our founding equity investors. ARL, which is a subsidiary of Arch Capital Group Ltd., or ACGL, a leading global insurance and reinsurance company whose shares are listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “ACGL,” invested $100 million in our common shares. ACGL had approximately $11.1 billion in capital and a market capitalization of approximately $12.1 billion as of September 30, 2018 and provides a full range of property, casualty and mortgage insurance and reinsurance lines, with a particular focus on writing specialty lines on a worldwide basis through operations in Bermuda, the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
Our strategic relationship with Arch provides us with unique underwriting expertise and market access based upon our ability to leverage Arch’s global underwriting infrastructure and distribution platform and has enabled us to build a diversified global portfolio of insurance and reinsurance risks. Our operating subsidiaries have written an aggregate of approximately $2.5 billion in gross written premium from inception to September 30, 2018.
Our main operating subsidiary is Watford Re Ltd., or Watford Re, a Bermuda-based company that began writing business in early 2014 and is registered as a Class 4 insurer with the Bermuda Monetary Authority, or the BMA. Bermuda is one of the largest insurance and reinsurance centers in the world, particularly for P&C markets, providing insurance and reinsurance capacity for risks on a global basis. In addition to traditional P&C lines, Watford Re also writes mortgage insurance and reinsurance on a worldwide basis. Our Bermuda presence gives us direct and efficient access to reinsure these risks. In mid-2015, we formed and capitalized Watford Insurance Company Europe Limited, or WICE, in Gibraltar to conduct business in Europe. In December 2015, WICE began writing business with access to markets across the European Union, targeting both personal lines and commercial lines of P&C insurance.
In late 2015, we formed and capitalized Watford Specialty Insurance Company, or WSIC, a U.S.-based excess & surplus, or E&S, lines insurer. In April 2016, WSIC began writing insurance business in the U.S. E&S market, concentrating its efforts on commercial lines of property and casualty
coverage, which it distributes through specialized insurance agents also known as program managers. We further expanded our U.S. capabilities in August 2016 through the acquisition and capitalization of Watford Insurance Company, or WIC, which has enabled us to access the larger admitted (or licensed) U.S. insurance market. Between WSIC and WIC, we are able to access the entire U.S. P&C insurance market, offering either admitted insurance products or E&S insurance products to service market demand.
The majority of our investments are allocated to non-investment grade corporate credit assets managed by HPS, which we refer to as our non-investment grade portfolio.
HPS is a global investment platform with a focus on non-investment grade credit. As shown in the chart below, HPS had approximately $46 billion of assets under management as of September 30, 2018. HPS manages our non-investment grade portfolio pursuant to investment guidelines formulated to complement our underwriting portfolio. The primary objective of our non-investment grade investment strategy is to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns comprising current interest income, trading gains and capital appreciation, with an emphasis on capital preservation. As of September 30, 2018, non-investment grade corporate credit comprised approximately 69% of our overall investment portfolio.
Total: $46 billion (Public Credit $17 billion; Private Credit $29 billion)
We refer to the remainder of our invested assets as our investment grade portfolio, which is primarily managed by Arch Investment Management Ltd., or AIM, a subsidiary of Arch that manages the investments of Arch’s own funds.
Our management team is led by John Rathgeber, a highly respected industry veteran with over 35 years of experience. Mr. Rathgeber served as the Chief Executive Officer of Arch Reinsurance Company, or ARC, Arch’s U.S. reinsurance operations, from its inception in 2001 until 2009. Mr. Rathgeber has also served as Vice Chairman of Arch Worldwide Reinsurance Group. In addition, we have recruited a management team that has significant senior leadership and underwriting experience in the insurance and reinsurance industry. We believe our management team’s industry experience is an important competitive advantage.
Since formation, we have meaningfully grown our business, generating sizable underwriting revenue and significant interest income. We believe that we are well-positioned to continue delivering prudent growth by balancing our complementary underwriting and investment strategies. From inception through September 30, 2018, our net written premiums and net interest income were as follows:
Nine Months Ended September 30,
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands)
Net written premiums
Net interest income
Global insurance and reinsurance company
We are a highly-rated global insurance and reinsurance company with a strong balance sheet and access to the key global insurance markets in Bermuda, Europe and the United States. We benefit from a multi-year, renewable strategic relationship with Arch, which sources opportunities and distributes our products through its global platform in accordance with our underwriting guidelines. The recent establishment of our U.S. and European insurance operations enables direct distribution of our products to our targeted clients, providing us with the flexibility to write on an insurance, reinsurance, or retrocessional basis depending upon the risk-adjusted pricing of particular markets.
Our book of specialty P&C lines is diversified by both territory and line of business. We believe our prudently underwritten, diversified, global book of insurance and reinsurance business is a competitive advantage.
Differentiated, balanced business model
We operate a differentiated, innovative business model compared to traditional insurers and reinsurers. The innovation in our total return business model is the marriage of the income generation potential of higher-coupon, corporate credit fixed income, fixed maturity investments with the underwriting of primarily lower volatility, medium- to long-tail casualty business. Our model is designed to create relatively stable and predictable cash flows from both underwriting (net premium receipts) and investments (interest income and scheduled principal repayments) to meet our underwriting liabilities, which should allow us to avoid being forced to sell assets at inopportune times.
Our dynamic, integrated approach to our underwriting and investments is reflected throughout our organization and enables us, through Arch and HPS, to be nimble and creative in evaluating risks on both sides of our balance sheet. We have engaged Arch and/or HPS, as applicable, to continuously evaluate underwriting and/or investment opportunities, as applicable, on our behalf, and, by leveraging their respective expertise and market access, we may increase or decrease our underwriting premium, adjust our mix of the underwriting portfolio, adjust investment leverage and/or adjust our mix of investment assets depending upon underwriting market conditions, credit market conditions or both. Our investment activities are complementary to our underwriting activities and provide us the ability to compete more effectively for insurance and reinsurance business.
We believe this hybrid approach makes us better equipped than traditional insurance and reinsurance companies to navigate the insurance and reinsurance underwriting cycles that have historically been experienced by the industry. During hard phases of the insurance and/or reinsurance cycles, through our strategic relationship with Arch we have the ability to increase our business volume to capture higher rate levels in the market. An example of this dynamic is our increased writings of European motor insurance, as rates have hardened in recent years.
Through our relationship with HPS, we have the ability to generate higher returns from investment income even when the industry is experiencing soft phases of the insurance and/or reinsurance
cycles, and this higher investment income enables us to be competitive in writing soft cycle insurance and reinsurance business that might not otherwise meet our return thresholds.
Additionally, we maintain the ability to generate higher investment income returns when the credit markets provide attractive opportunities. In the period since our inception, while the insurance and reinsurance markets have been in a general softening phase, the credit investment market experienced both a widening and then a tightening of credit spreads. See “-Our operations-Investment operations-Non-investment grade portfolio-Investment strategy.” As demonstrated by the chart below entitled “Deployment of Assets into Non-Investment Grade Investment Strategy,” our usage of borrowings to purchase additional assets in the non-investment grade portfolio increased as the Credit Suisse High Yield Index’s Spread-to-Worst widened, reflecting HPS’s view that these periods presented more attractive risk-adjusted investment opportunities, which generated increased net interest income. When credit spreads later tightened, assets were sold and the proceeds were used to repay borrowings from the credit facility.
In recognition of our hybrid, total return approach, Arch and HPS each share a portion of their management fees and performance fees related to services provided by Arch and HPS to Watford Re with the other pursuant to a fee sharing agreement. The fee sharing arrangement also provides a marginal alignment of interest benefit by encouraging and rewarding collaborative efforts by allowing both Arch and HPS to participate in the revenue generated by the components of our business that are managed by the other. We pay each of Arch and HPS the fees due under the respective services agreements and the fee sharing agreement does not affect the total amount of fees that we pay; we do not monitor, and we are not made aware of, the actual sharing payments between Arch and HPS. With the exception of the right to consent to any proposed amendment, we have no rights under the fee sharing agreement. We view the fee sharing agreement as a positive factor that strengthens the commitment of each of Arch and HPS to ensuring the quality of the services each performs on our behalf and fosters a cooperative approach to working toward our overall success; however, we neither consider the fee sharing agreement to be central to our business model nor depend on the fee sharing agreement to balance any potential conflicts of interest.
Our relationship with Arch
We believe that our strategic relationship with Arch provides us with a meaningful competitive advantage in both access and expense for our reinsurance business and in launching our recently initiated insurance business. We believe that our ability to leverage Arch’s risk evaluation expertise, global reach, broad distribution network and industry stature provides us with attractive underwriting opportunities that many of our principal competitors do not have the resources or infrastructure to access. On our behalf, Arch monitors opportunities that provide attractive risk-adjusted returns with a particular focus on product lines in which Arch has experience and expertise, particularly any which may have previously experienced adverse results and are therefore beginning to benefit from an increase in premium rates. Similarly, Arch’s underwriting acumen brings us value in determining product lines that due to market conditions are not providing adequate returns and for which writings should be reduced. For instance, because of the prolonged softening of the property catastrophe product line, we have purposely written less premium in that line versus what was originally planned.
As a result of our relationship with Arch, we are able to distribute our products through Arch’s worldwide platform on a variable cost basis, thus avoiding the fixed expense of maintaining our own global underwriting infrastructure. In addition to its $100 million equity investment in our company and its assumption of a minimum 15% share of risks underwritten by us, Arch is aligned with us through the premium-based fees it receives, and strategically through the ability to provide additional solutions to its clients.
The table below provides the fees and reimbursements we have paid to Arch for its services relating to our insurance and reinsurance operations for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017, and the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Three Months Ended September 30,
Nine Months Ended September 30,
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands)
Fees and Reimbursements to Arch
Strong balance sheet
We have a strong balance sheet, unencumbered by many of the legacy exposures the industry assumed in the past, and we are committed to preserving our financial strength. In addition, we utilize low operating leverage and have limited catastrophe exposure. As of September 30, 2018, our total assets were $3.4 billion and our invested assets totaled $2.8 billion across our investment strategies. Our $1.2 billion total capitalization (which includes our preference shares) provides us with the flexibility to engage in attractive underwriting and investment opportunities while maintaining our financial strength.
Variable cost structure
For our underwriting operations, we are able to access Arch’s worldwide underwriting platform which allows us to operate on a predominantly premium-based, variable cost expense structure, incurring operational and underwriting expense only as premiums are written, thus avoiding the fixed expense of maintaining our own global underwriting staff and infrastructure. To date, this access has permitted us to achieve a lower expense ratio than most of our competitors. Our fixed costs are largely limited to supporting enterprise risk management and corporate management functions. This is a meaningful advantage versus other industry participants who face rising expense ratios as market cycles cause premium volumes to decline. This variable cost structure provides us flexibility in managing expenses, which is of particular benefit in the highly competitive, cyclical reinsurance markets in which we operate and for our recently formed insurance operations as we ramp up their premium writings. Further, to the extent Arch continues to develop and grow its platform and capabilities, we benefit through increased opportunities to write attractive business without adding to our fixed cost expenses.
Similarly, we have outsourced our investment management to HPS and AIM and we feel that the structure of the compensation we pay to these managers, comprising a variable, asset-based component in both cases and an incentive-based fee for HPS, provides benefits to us both in terms of aligning interests and providing cost-effective access to the expertise required to execute our chosen investment strategy.
Experienced management team
Our senior management team has an average of over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry. Our senior management team is led by John Rathgeber, who has over 35 years of experience in the reinsurance industry as an underwriter, actuary, risk manager and senior executive. Mr. Rathgeber helped found ARC, Arch’s U.S. reinsurance operations, where he served as the Chief Executive Officer from its inception in 2001 until the fall of 2009, at which point he assumed the role of Vice Chairman of Reinsurance for Arch, the position he retained until leaving Arch to join us in early 2014.
In addition, our management team includes our Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Risk Officer. Our team has significant senior leadership and underwriting experience in the
insurance and reinsurance industry, with vast expertise in operations, financial analysis and reporting, treasury, risk management and actuarial analysis.
Our board of directors has deep insurance, reinsurance and financial services industry experience
We have an experienced board of directors comprising accomplished industry veterans who collectively bring decades of experience from their prior roles operating and working in insurance, reinsurance and other financial services companies. Our board of directors currently consists of five independent directors, two directors appointed by Arch and our Chief Executive Officer.
Execute a dynamic business model focused on total returns
We are a total return-driven insurance and reinsurance company. We strive to deliver attractive long-term returns to our shareholders by writing a diversified underwriting portfolio through a proven, disciplined approach, augmented by an investment strategy comprising primarily non-investment grade fixed income corporate credit assets and designed to complement our target underwriting business mix. We feel that this combination enhances our opportunity to thoughtfully deploy our capital in the most effective manner and to produce attractive risk-adjusted returns across both sides of the balance sheet, thereby maximizing the total return for our shareholders.
Build an insurance platform that supplements our reinsurance business
In 2015, we expanded our platform to include P&C insurance business in the United States and European markets. The business we access at the insurance level generally has lower acquisition costs than similar business accessed at the reinsurance level, and provides other operating efficiencies. In addition, we expect that our insurance business will produce further diversification benefits resulting in lower volatility of our underwriting results.
The table below shows the net written insurance premiums generated by our insurance business for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017, and the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015. We intend to continue to grow our insurance business opportunistically by leveraging our strategic relationship with Arch.
Three Months Ended September 30,
Nine Months Ended September 30,
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands)
Insurance programs and coinsurance - net written premiums
Capitalize on the expertise and infrastructure of Arch, our exclusive underwriting manager
We have partnered with Arch to source and manage our underwriting portfolio in accordance with our underwriting guidelines. We believe this relationship will enable us to execute our chosen, casualty-focused underwriting strategy based on Arch’s expertise in our target lines of business. This arrangement provides us with access to Arch’s global underwriting infrastructure and distribution platform, and has allowed us to quickly build a global portfolio of diversified insurance and reinsurance risks.
Pursue an investment approach that complements our underwriting strategy
Our investment strategy seeks to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns comprising interest income, trading gains and capital appreciation with an emphasis on capital preservation. This investment strategy complements our underwriting portfolio, which predominantly targets
medium- to long-tail casualty business. Our non-investment grade portfolio, which is managed by HPS, consists of high yielding corporate credit assets. Our goal in pursuing this strategy is to generate superior investment returns, as compared with investment returns achieved by our peers, through disciplined and prudent credit risk analysis and proper pricing for the risk assumed. We seek to achieve risk-adjusted returns that exceed those of typical reinsurer investment portfolios while also producing stable cash flows from scheduled interest payments. Our lower volatility, casualty-focused underwriting portfolio should have predictability in terms of the timing of payments to insurance claimants, thereby mitigating the risk of having to sell assets during times of temporary investment market stresses.
Maintain a robust risk management program
We have a strong risk management function, overseen by our Chief Risk Officer. We benefit from our ability to leverage the risk management infrastructures in place within each of Arch and HPS. We regularly receive relevant exposure and modeling information from Arch and HPS. On that data we overlay our proprietary analytics, tailored risk appetites and controls for an integrated approach to monitoring and reviewing our exposures. We maintain active oversight of our underwriting and investment management service providers at both the management and board level.
Conservative approach to underwriting risk
We have designed our underwriting and investment strategies toward the goal of maintaining our balance sheet strength on a long-term basis through varying phases of market cycles. We target a medium-to long-term, lower volatility underwriting portfolio with tightly managed natural catastrophe exposure. We seek to limit our modeled probable maximum loss, or PML, for property catastrophe exposures for each peak peril and peak zone from a 1-in-250 year occurrence to no more than 10% of the value of our total shareholders’ equity plus our contingently redeemable preference shares, or our total capital, which is less than most of our principal reinsurance competitors. As of September 30, 2018, this modeled net PML was 2.3% of our total capital. Our conscious effort to limit our catastrophe exposure lowers the volatility of our overall underwriting portfolio and provides greater certainty as to future claims-related payout patterns and timing. Our casualty-focused portfolio’s payout pattern is slower than that of most of our competitors due to the longer tail lines of business we write, and that slower payout pattern provides us with the potential for greater investment income on those premiums, thereby providing us an underwriting modeling advantage when competing for those target lines of business.
We have a robust process for setting loss reserves, leveraging the established processes and procedures employed by Arch, making our own analyses and judgments, and through periodic reviews by external actuarial firms. We also regularly monitor our investment portfolios, including performance of the underlying credits, overall liquidity and how well that liquidity matches with the projected claims payments related to our underwriting portfolio. Being prudent stewards of our balance sheet allows us to maintain the confidence of all of our constituents and thereby to position ourselves to better achieve our goals.
The following information reflects our preliminary expectations with respect to our financial and operating results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2018. The estimates presented below have not been audited, reviewed, compiled, nor have agreed-upon procedures been applied with respect to the preliminary financial data. These preliminary financial and operating results are subject to revision as we complete the preparation of our 2018 year-end financial statements (including all required disclosures) and as the 2018 year-end audit is completed, which revisions could be material.
(Estimated / Unaudited)
(Estimated / Unaudited)
Three Months Ended
December 31, 2018
September 30, 2018
December 31, 2018
December 31, 2017
($ in millions, except percentages and share amounts)
Net premiums earned
Underwriting income (loss) (1)
Net interest income (2)
Net realized gains (losses)
Net unrealized gains (losses)
Net investment income (loss) (3)
Non-recurring direct listing expenses
Net income (loss) available to common shareholders
Earnings (loss) per share - basic and diluted
Book value per share - basic and diluted
(1) Underwriting income (loss) is a non-U.S. GAAP financial measure and is calculated as net premiums earned, less loss and loss adjustment expenses, acquisition expenses and general and administrative expenses.
(2) Net interest income is calculated as interest income, less investment management fees - related parties and borrowings and miscellaneous other investment expenses.
(3) Net investment income (loss) is calculated as the sum of net interest income, net realized gains (losses), net unrealized gains (losses), less investment performance fees - related parties.
The estimated combined ratio was 115.4% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, comprised of an estimated 87.9% loss ratio, an estimated 23.4% acquisition expense ratio and an estimated 4.1% general and administrative expense ratio. The elevated combined ratio was primarily driven by property losses from Hurricane Michael, California Wildfires, and other 2018 catastrophe events across the globe. The property losses net of reinsurance recoveries for these events is estimated at $16 million. Additionally, our underwriting results were adversely affected by liability losses from the same events.
Estimated net investment loss for the three months ended December 31, 2018 was $61.1 million, compared to net investment income of $21.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018. While net interest income for the three months ended December 31, 2018 increased by an estimated 9.5% versus the three months ended September 30, 2018, credit spreads widened meaningfully during the quarter resulting in estimated unrealized losses on investments of $102.2 million;
Estimated non-recurring expenses of $9.0 million related to legal, advisory and accounting expenses associated with the initial listing of our common shares on The NASDAQ Global Market.
The estimates presented above are not necessarily indicative of any future period and should be read together with the sections entitled “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” “Item 2. Financial Information” and our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included elsewhere in this registration statement. The preliminary
financial and operating data presented in this Recent Developments section of this registration statement has been prepared by, and is the responsibility of, Watford’s management. PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. has not audited, reviewed, compiled, or applied agreed-upon procedures with respect to the preliminary financial data. Accordingly, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. does not express an opinion or any other form of assurance with respect thereto.
Through our underwriting operations we are able to offer a variety of P&C insurance and reinsurance products on a global basis. We target an underwriting portfolio that is diversified by line of business and geography, with a focus on medium- to long-tail casualty business. Given the recent inception of our insurance operations, our underwriting portfolio to-date has been predominantly reinsurance, although we expect our insurance writings to increase going forward. We have built a diversified, low volatility portfolio by purposely limiting our modeled natural catastrophe exposure to a level lower than many other insurers and reinsurers. As of September 30, 2018, our largest peril and zone modeled net PML from a 1-in-250 year occurrence was 2.3% of our total capital. Our strategy is to operate in lines of business in which underwriting skill and specialized knowledge can make a meaningful difference in operating results.
We have been well-received in the market and successful in writing what we believe to be attractive underwriting opportunities. We benefit from Arch’s broad underwriting expertise and worldwide distribution network. Arch’s global, multi-line market presence facilitates the ability for it to strategically adapt our mix of business by geography, product line or type as we or Arch perceive potential opportunities. In addition, as a result of our “A-” (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best and our “A” rating from KBRA, as well as our strong balance sheet, we are well-positioned to increase our premium volume in favorable market cycles, creating additional attractive underwriting opportunities.
Similar to other reinsurers and to other insurers writing business through program managers, we do not separately evaluate each individual risk assumed and are, therefore, largely dependent upon the original underwriting decisions made by the ceding companies and program managers in accordance with agreed underwriting guidelines. However, we believe Arch’s experience in portfolio risk selection and detailed monitoring of cedants and program managers provides us with a competitive advantage.
Our Bermuda-based operating subsidiary, Watford Re, writes a broad range of P&C coverages. In addition to traditional P&C lines, Watford Re also writes mortgage insurance and reinsurance on a worldwide basis. Our reinsurance business leverages Arch’s global underwriting platform to distribute a wide variety of products covering lines of business around the world. We write business for third-party cedants and also assume a significant portion of our business as a reinsurance or retrocession of business that Arch has underwritten for its own portfolio and that also meets our underwriting guidelines and return metrics. The table below provides the percentage of our total gross written premium assumed from Arch for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017, and the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Three Months Ended September 30,
Nine Months Ended September 30,
Year Ended December 31,
Gross written premium assumed from Arch
Arch competes with us and will continue to underwrite business for its own distinct portfolios in accordance with its own policies, strategies and business plans. In sourcing insurance and reinsurance opportunities through its worldwide platform, Arch evaluates the perceived risk
exposure pursuant to its proprietary underwriting methodology, and then models the required pricing based on both its and our underwriting criteria. In furtherance of our underwriting philosophy to pursue lines of business in which underwriting knowledge and expertise can drive attractive returns, our underwriting guidelines are based largely on Arch’s own, leveraging the experience of Arch’s underwriting professionals. Our underwriting guidelines differ from Arch’s in several aspects, most notably in that our guidelines purposely limit catastrophe risk and our portfolio focus is on mid- to long-tail casualty and other lines of business with similar tenor, whereas Arch’s target business mix includes more catastrophe exposure and a higher percentage of shorter-tail lines.
In underwriting business on our behalf, Arch fundamentally employs the same qualitative and quantitative evaluation and selection criteria for our underwriting portfolio as it does for its own account and each potential contract is evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively for both Arch’s portfolio and ours. For each opportunity that passes Arch’s qualitative and quantitative screening, when performing the pricing evaluation of a contract on our behalf, Arch applies our investment return assumptions to determine our expected return on the allocated capital for each such business opportunity. The determination by Arch as to whether to offer only Arch capacity, only our capacity, or both as side-by-side capacity, depends on the result of the pricing analysis using differing investment assumptions for us and Arch, reflecting our differentiated investment strategies. The mid- to long-tail business on which we focus can benefit from a higher return on the premium float and thus, certain opportunities that meet our metrics may not meet those of insurers and reinsurers like Arch with a more traditional investment strategy. In underwriting operations, “float” arises when premiums are received before losses and other expenses are paid and is an interval that sometimes extends over many years. During that time, the insurer invests the premiums, earns interest income and may generate capital gains and losses. In order to provide solutions to its reinsurance brokers and potential insurance clients, Arch has a strategic incentive to place that business with us rather than simply declining to provide capacity to the broker or potential client in such circumstances.
Other than with respect to renewals of business previously written by our underwriting subsidiaries, Arch is not required to allocate any particular business opportunities to us, but we believe that Arch has strong incentives to allocate attractive business to us, based on Arch’s $100 million investment in our common shares, our contractual arrangements through which Arch earns premium-based fees and a profit commission for business written on our behalf, and as well as Arch’s ability to offer potential clients additional solutions, thus gaining a strategic benefit in the competitive, syndicated reinsurance market in which it is often necessary to be on an expiring contract in order to have the opportunity to bid to provide capacity at the next annual renewal.
Through our relationship with Arch, we have built a diversified portfolio of medium- to long-tail commercial lines casualty, other specialty and property risks. Our underwriting segment captures the results of our underwriting lines of business, which are comprised of specialty products on a worldwide basis. Our four major lines of business are described as follows:
Casualty reinsurance: coverage provided to ceding company clients on third-party liability and workers’ compensation exposures, primarily on a treaty basis. Business written includes coverages such as: executive assurance, medical malpractice liability, other professional liability, workers’ compensation, excess and umbrella liability and excess auto liability.
Other specialty reinsurance: coverage provided to ceding company clients for personal and commercial auto (other than excess auto liability), mortgage, surety, accident and health, workers’ compensation catastrophe, agriculture and marine and aviation.
Property catastrophe reinsurance: protects ceding company clients for most catastrophic losses that are covered in the underlying policies. Perils covered may include hurricane, earthquake, flood, tornado, hail and fire, and coverage for other perils on a case-by-case basis. Property catastrophe reinsurance provides coverage on an excess of loss basis when aggregate losses and
loss adjustment expense from a single occurrence of a covered peril exceed the retention specified in the contract.
Insurance programs and coinsurance: targeting program managers and/or coinsurers with unique expertise and niche products offering primary and excess general liability, umbrella liability, professional liability, workers’ compensation, personal and commercial automobile, inland marine and property business with minimal catastrophe exposure.
Our insurance operations are conducted in the United States and Europe. We established our insurance platform as a complement to our reinsurance strategy to expand our distribution channels. Our insurance strategy is focused on pursuing attractive underwriting opportunities in the U.S. and European insurance markets and we view our insurance platform as having the potential to provide meaningful premium growth.
In the United States, we are authorized to write commercial P&C lines of business in both the admitted market and the E&S market through our WIC and WSIC subsidiaries, respectively. In Europe, we write direct insurance and co-insurance business, primarily in personal P&C lines, through lead insurers and program managers that develop and distribute specialized insurance products for our WICE subsidiary.
We operate and monitor our lines of business through our underwriting segment. The table below provides a breakdown of our gross written premiums for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017:
Three Months Ended September 30, 2018
Nine Months Ended September 30,
($ in thousands)
Other specialty reinsurance
Property catastrophe reinsurance
Insurance programs and coinsurance
The table below provides a breakdown of our gross written premiums for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015:
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands)
Other specialty reinsurance
Property catastrophe reinsurance
Insurance programs and coinsurance
Watford Re is a licensed, Class 4 Bermuda-based reinsurer operating under the supervision of the BMA. Arch serves as our exclusive reinsurance portfolio manager and provides reinsurance-related services including exposure modeling, loss reserve recommendations, claims handling and other related services as part of our long-term services agreements with them. All reinsurance contracts are bound on our behalf by designated employees made available to us by Arch, or, in certain circumstances, by Watford Re management.
We assume reinsurance from third-party cedants or from Arch entities on a reinsurance or retrocessional basis. The retrocessions from Arch are from its reinsurance operations in the United States, Bermuda, Europe, and Australia, levering Arch’s distribution and local expertise in its markets. We also have provided, and may continue to provide, reinsurance to Arch’s insurance operations in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
In 2015 and 2016, we established insurance operations in Europe and the United States. These insurance operations provide additional points of access to our target lines of business, with the potential added benefit for lower acquisition costs and other distribution efficiencies. All of our insurance subsidiaries carry our A.M. Best “A-” (Excellent) rating and our KBRA “A” rating and through them we pursue insurance product lines similar to those we target through our reinsurance operations.
In the United States, our principal insurance subsidiaries are WSIC and its wholly-owned subsidiary, WIC, both of which are domiciled in New Jersey. WSIC is an eligible E&S lines insurer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. WIC is an admitted insurer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Following our acquisition of WIC in 2016, we have expanded our certificates of authority to cover a broad range of lines of business in 43 states and the District of Columbia, and we are in the process of similarly expanding our authority in the remaining seven states. Both WSIC and WIC are located in Morristown, New Jersey. Through WSIC and WIC we have the flexibility to access both the E&S and admitted sectors of the U.S. P&C market. Our U.S. insurance subsidiaries concentrate primarily on commercial casualty lines of insurance and have initiated writing business through select program managers.
Our insurance operations in Europe are conducted through WICE, which has its principal office in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. WICE was formed to provide access to insurance risks across the European Union. WICE concentrates on U.K. and Western European risks, predominantly in personal lines of insurance but will also entertain commercial casualty lines.
Our goal within our insurance operations is to be a valued, long-term capacity partner with a select group of well-established, proven program managers, with our integrated total return strategy providing them with competitive solutions for their clients. We have a strong market position as an “A-” rated carrier with approximately $1.2 billion in capital. Many of the insurers providing capacity to program managers are neither as substantially capitalized nor as highly rated as we are; having a strong insurance partner gives program managers an edge when promoting products to clients.
We believe that our ability to enter insurance markets on a largely variable cost basis, unburdened by the fixed costs that would otherwise be required to create a standalone insurance operation, provides us with another significant and fundamental advantage. We benefit from AUI’s and AUL’s industry contacts and market acumen to identify, attract, and retain those program managers who satisfy our guidelines in terms of reputation, technical track record and quality of administration. While we benefit from AUI’s and AUL’s infrastructure, our acquisition and administrative costs are largely based on premiums actually produced.
Subject to our overall underwriting guidelines, on our behalf, AUL, for WICE, or AUI, for WSIC and WIC, thoroughly diligences each prospective program manager and approves underwriting
guidelines for each specific line and class of business before delegation of the underwriting and/or claims-handling authority to any such program manager. We believe that by stringently vetting potential program managers we can advantageously and efficiently access a broad customer base while maintaining underwriting control and discipline. Fundamentally, AUL and AUI employ the same evaluation and selection criteria in scrutinizing our prospective program managers as they do for Arch’s own account. The determination by AUL and AUI as to whether to offer our policies, Arch’s policies, or both, depends on the result of the pricing analysis using the differing return assumptions of each company. On an ongoing basis, we and AUL or AUI, as applicable, monitor the business produced and financial condition of each program manager through periodic audits of underwriting, claims and operations.
Sourcing and underwriting
We have a strategic relationship pursuant to which Arch assists us in our pursuit of a highly disciplined underwriting approach, targeting lines of business that we believe will allow us to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns throughout industry market cycles. On our behalf, Arch continuously monitors the broad insurance and reinsurance market for opportunities. Specifically, Arch monitors opportunities that are anticipated to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns with a particular focus on product lines which may have previously experienced adverse results and are therefore beginning to benefit from an increase in premium rates, and thus provide a potentially beneficial time to enter, or increase activity in, those markets. Similarly, on our behalf, Arch analyzes the market for softening product lines for which the applicable rates may provide less attractive risk-adjusted returns and potentially reduces our exposure to such lines accordingly at renewal.
Our strategy is to operate in lines of business in which underwriting expertise can make a meaningful difference in operating results. We are opportunistic in our pursuit of underwriting risks and binding business where we believe we have a competitive advantage in risk evaluation, distribution, investment strategy, or a combination of these factors. Our recent establishment of U.S. and European insurance operations enables us to directly access similar types of underlying risk premium as we underwrite as reinsurance, with what we believe to be better risk-adjusted pricing. Accessing premium through our insurance operations should also provide the benefit of lower acquisitions costs.
Our underwriting philosophy is based on prudent risk selection, risk diversification, and comprehensive pricing analysis. We believe that the key to our approach is adherence to underwriting rigor across all types of business we underwrite. We employ a disciplined, analytical approach to underwriting. As part of the underwriting process, a variety of factors are typically assessed, including: (i) adequacy of underlying rates combined with the expected return on equity for a given insurance or reinsurance program; (ii) the industry reputation, track record, perceived financial strength and stability of the proposed client, or program manager in the case of our insurance business; (iii) the likelihood of establishing a long-term relationship with the client or program manager; (iv) the specialized knowledge and access to business that they possess; (v) the geographic area in which the client or program manager does business, together with our aggregate exposures in that area; (vi) historical loss data for the client or program manager; and (vii) projections of future loss frequency and severity.
Pursuant to our underwriting guidelines, we target an underwriting portfolio with tightly managed natural catastrophe exposure. We currently seek to limit our modeled PML for property catastrophe exposures for each peak peril and peak zone from a 1-in-250 year occurrence to no more than 10% of our total capital, which is less than most of our principal reinsurance competitors. Our conscious effort to limit our catastrophe exposure lowers the volatility of our overall underwriting portfolio and provides greater certainty as to future claims-related payout patterns and timing, dovetailing well with our non-investment grade investment strategy by minimizing the possibility of needing to sell investments at inopportune times in the investment market cycles.
We believe that our experienced senior management, combined with Arch’s underwriting expertise and broad market access, allows us to identify business with attractive risk-reward characteristics. As new underwriting opportunities are identified, we explore the suitability of underwriting the new business in order to take advantage of perceived market trends, particularly in lines of business for which Arch already possesses deep underwriting expertise.
Policy service and claims management
Arch provides underwriting services, portfolio management, exposure modeling, loss reserve recommendations, claims-handling, legal oversight, regulatory compliance, policy issuance and development, underwriting systems review, program manager audits, accounting support and administrative support, in each case, subject to the terms and conditions of our services agreements with Arch, including our underwriting and operational guidelines, as well as the oversight of our management and board of directors.
We believe that handling claims is an important component of customer service through which we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors. The ability to handle claims in accordance with industry best practices and standards fosters credibility in the market both with customers and with program managers. Through this arrangement with Arch, we gain access on a very cost-effective basis to highly experienced underwriting, claims, and support function professionals and benefit from the exemplary customer service reputation Arch has earned over its 16-year history.
In administering claims on our behalf, Arch may engage third-party claims-handling firms to monitor, adjust and pay claims up to designated approval levels. Arch provides close supervision over any such third-party managers. Claims-handling firms are monitored and audited on an ongoing basis. When considering any proposed claims-handling delegation, Arch evaluates the candidate’s expertise, track record, staffing adequacy, reputation and licensing as required.
We have entered into outward quota share reinsurance agreements with Arch for each of our operating subsidiaries, which we believe provides a strong alignment of interest through Arch’s assuming a direct and meaningful sharing of the risk it underwrites for us. Subject to limited exceptions, Arch participates in a minimum 15% interest in all risks written by us, either by its own original participation, writing a companion line with us, or by accepting a minimum 15% quota share participation on all other contracts.
From time to time, we purchase third-party reinsurance when deemed advantageous from a portfolio management standpoint. We only use reinsurers carrying an “A-” or higher rating from A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s or, alternatively, reinsurers that provide sufficient collateral to mitigate credit risk exposure.
Our invested assets are funded with our capital, accumulated net underwriting float, reinvested net interest income, net capital gains and borrowings to purchase investments. These invested assets are allocated between our non-investment grade portfolio and our investment grade portfolio. As of September 30, 2018, our non-investment grade portfolio represented approximately 69% of our invested assets and our investment grade portfolio represented approximately 31% of our invested assets. Our investment operations are monitored by our Chief Risk Officer and the investment committee of our board of directors.
Our non-investment grade portfolio is comprised principally of corporate credit assets managed by HPS pursuant to separate investment management agreements with Watford Re, Watford Asset Trust I, or Watford Trust, and each of our insurance subsidiaries. Each such investment management
agreement with HPS includes investment guidelines. Subject to these guidelines, HPS makes all investment decisions with respect to our non-investment grade portfolio on our behalf. Our non-investment grade investment strategy and guidelines are formulated to complement our target underwriting portfolio, being designed to meet the projected payout characteristics of the medium- to long-tail, lower-volatility underwriting portfolio we underwrite.
The remainder of our investment portfolio is invested in investment grade assets, the largest portion of which is managed by AIM. We also have several investment-grade accounts managed by third-party managers.
The following chart shows the breakdown of our total investments among our non-investment grade portfolio and our investment grade portfolio as of September 30, 2018:
Total: 2,776.0 million
The following chart shows the breakdown of our investments by rating within our total investment portfolio as of September 30, 2018:
Total: 2,776.0 million
Investment grade ratings, such as “BBB” and above, indicate the applicable rating agency’s view that the investment has a low risk of credit default and that the obligor has at least adequate capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation.
Ratings below investment-grade, such as “BB”, “B” and “CCC,” indicate the applicable rating agency’s view that the investment is speculative, that the obligor is more vulnerable than investment grade-rated obligors, and that, in the event of adverse business, financial, or economic conditions, the obligor is less likely to have the capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation. Based on published criteria, a “BB” rating reflects the applicable rating agency’s view that, while the obligation is less vulnerable to non-payment than other speculative issues, it faces major ongoing uncertainties or exposure to adverse business, financial, or economic conditions which could lead to the obligor’s inadequate capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. A rating of “B” reflects the applicable rating agency’s view that the obligor currently has the capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation, but adverse business, financial, or economic conditions will likely impair the obligor’s capacity or willingness to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. A rating of “CCC” indicates the applicable rating agency’s view that the obligation is currently vulnerable to non-payment and is dependent upon favorable business, financial, and economic conditions for the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. A rating below “CCC” indicates the applicable rating agency’s view that the obligation is currently highly vulnerable to non-payment.
A portion of our investment portfolio consists of assets that do not have a rating from one of the major rating agencies. Just as is done in connection with a potential investment in a rated debt obligation, when offered the opportunity to invest our assets into an unrated obligation, HPS thoroughly evaluates the obligor and the potential investment and makes a determination as to the inherent risks and whether the terms provide an attractive risk-adjusted return. A debt issuer may choose to forgo obtaining a rating for a number of reasons, particularly if the debt issuer is doing a small privately placed transaction for which the ratings fees would be a burdensome expense or if the desired transaction date does not allow sufficient time for the completion of the rating process.
It is also possible that a prospective issuer or the terms of the proposed obligation would not meet the rating agency requirements for the level of rating desired by the obligor company.
The following table shows the components of our net investment income (loss) on investments for the periods indicated:
Three Months Ended September 30,
Nine Months Ended September 30,
($ in thousands)
Investment management fees - related parties
Borrowing and miscellaneous other investment expenses
Net interest income
Realized and unrealized gain (loss) on investments
Investment performance fees - related parties
Net investment income (loss)
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands)
Investment management fees - related parties
Borrowing and miscellaneous other investment expenses
Net interest income
Realized and unrealized gain (loss) on investments
Investment performance fees - related parties
Net investment income (loss)
Non-investment grade portfolio
Background on HPS. HPS is a global investment firm with a focus on non-investment grade credit. Established in 2007, HPS has over 100 investment professionals and over 250 total employees. HPS manages capital for sophisticated investors, including financial institutions, public and corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, funds of funds, endowments, foundations and family offices, as well as individuals. HPS is headquartered in New York with ten additional offices globally. HPS has approximately $46 billion of assets under management as of September 30, 2018.
HPS was originally formed as a unit of Highbridge, a subsidiary of JPMorgan Asset Management Holdings Inc., and formerly known as Highbridge Principal Strategies, LLC. In March 2016, the principals of HPS acquired the firm from JPMorgan Asset Management Holdings Inc., which retained Highbridge’s hedge fund strategies.
Investment strategy. Our non-investment grade portfolio seeks to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns comprising current interest income, trading gains and capital appreciation, with an emphasis on capital preservation. To execute the non-investment grade component of our investment strategy, we mandated HPS with a strategy that (i) is designed to meet the projected payout characteristics of the medium- to long-term, lower-volatility underwriting portfolio we underwrite and (ii) seeks to achieve risk-adjusted returns that exceed those of typical reinsurer investment portfolios by focusing on non-investment grade assets, with the flexibility to invest a limited portion of this portfolio in less liquid assets. Specifically, we seek to achieve investment
returns that exceed those returns achieved by our competitors from their fixed-income portfolios, and we seek to achieve those superior returns with less investment portfolio volatility than experienced by certain peers’ investment portfolios that have the potential for returns commensurate with our investment returns. We believe this strategy provides us with risk-adjusted returns that are both attractive and appropriate given our underwriting portfolio.
HPS manages our non-investment grade corporate credit assets, including bank loans and high yield bonds, and may also invest in other instruments such as mezzanine debt, equities, credit default swaps, structured credit instruments and other derivative products. Our non-investment grade portfolio seeks to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns comprising current interest income, trading gains and capital appreciation, with an emphasis on capital preservation. Pursuant to these investment guidelines, HPS is permitted to hedge the assets in our non-investment grade portfolio to reduce volatility and protect against systemic risks, as well as to enter into opportunistic short positions. Other than cash and cash equivalents, investment positions with a single issuer will comprise no more than 7.5% of the aggregate Long Market Value (defined as the value of the long investments of the portfolio of Watford Re or Watford Trust, valued using the methodologies set forth in Watford Re’s or Watford Trust’s investment management agreement with HPS, as applicable) of our non-investment grade portfolio. Positions established primarily for hedging purposes (including, without limitation, index positions) are not subject to this limit, and capital structure arbitrage positions in an issuer are deemed separate investments for the purposes of these limitations.
Through this strategy, we seek to achieve risk-adjusted returns that exceed those of typical reinsurer investment portfolios by focusing on non-investment grade assets, with the flexibility to invest a limited portion of this portfolio in less liquid assets. Limited positions in equity securities are also permitted, subject to our non-investment grade investment guidelines, which are an integral component of each applicable investment management agreement. Generally, any equity investments are not expected, in the aggregate, to represent more than 10% of the Long Market Value of our non-investment grade portfolio, and are expected to be focused on either a value-oriented approach or a catalyst to a realization event, which include restructurings, lawsuits and regulatory changes, among other examples. Equity investments resulting in ownership exceeding 18.5% of the outstanding equity securities of an issuer, measured at the time of investment, will require our prior approval. HPS may also utilize other investment instruments for our non-investment grade portfolio, subject to our non-investment grade investment guidelines.
The non-investment grade investment guidelines under Watford Trust’s and our insurance subsidiaries’ respective investment management agreements with HPS also contain certain limitations relating to, among other things, the concentration of investments and utilization of leverage. For more information, see “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with HPS-Investment management agreements.” As of September 30, 2018, HPS was in compliance with all non-investment grade investment guidelines.
In order to implement our non-investment grade investment strategy, HPS may also, from time to time and upon consultation with us, invest a portion of our non-investment grade portfolio in investment funds managed by HPS. While there is no codified limit on the portion of our non-investment grade portfolio that may be invested in funds managed by HPS, we only expect to invest additional assets from our non-investment grade portfolio in funds managed by HPS to the extent that HPS, in consultation with us, determines that such investment would provide economic, tax, regulatory or other benefits to us (for instance, such as allowing us to access a strategy that we would not have been able to efficiently access other than through investment in such a fund). To the extent that any such assets are invested directly or indirectly in funds managed by HPS, such assets invested in funds managed by HPS are part of our non-investment grade portfolio. We pay HPS performance and management fees on the assets in our non-investment grade portfolio. Such fees are calculated on the non-investment grade portfolio as a whole such that the assets, if any, invested in HPS-managed funds were to increase in value in a given period but the non-investment
grade portfolio as a whole were to decrease during such period, we would not owe HPS a performance fee for such period. Similarly, if the assets, if any, invested in HPS-managed funds were to decrease in value in a given period but the non-investment grade portfolio as a whole were to increase during such period, we would owe HPS a performance fee for such period. We do not pay HPS any separate or additional fees with respect to any such assets invested in HPS-managed funds. As of September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017, our non-investment grade portfolio held $48.4 million and $49.6 million, respectively, in an investment fund managed by HPS. As of the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, our non-investment grade portfolio did not have any investments in funds managed by HPS.
When evaluating an insurer’s financial strength and determining minimum capital requirements, rating agencies and applicable regulators typically assign capital charges to not only the underwriting portfolio but also to the different classes of investment assets held by that insurer, based on the perceived level of risk and volatility. Our non-investment grade assets are viewed as riskier than investment-grade assets and thereby carry higher capital charges than those assigned to investment grade assets, and therefore we may be required to hold more capital than similarly-sized traditional insurers and reinsurers, and it is possible that, for certain atypical, non-investment grade assets, we might receive minimal or no regulatory capital credit. While our strategy involves a greater degree of investment risk than is typical for traditional insurers and reinsurers, in our overall enterprise risk management framework, such increased investment risk is balanced with the more predictable timing of claims payments inherent in our underwriting portfolio, especially in relation to the lesser amount of catastrophe exposure we assume, as compared with the amount of such catastrophe risk assumed by many of our insurance and reinsurance peers. Our having a mid- to long-tail underwriting portfolio reduces, but does not entirely eliminate, the risk of needing to sell investment assets into an inopportune market cycle in order to generate cash for claims payments.
In undertaking this strategy, based on the interest rate and/or credit spread environment as of any given quarter-end, we may periodically be required to absorb mark-to-market movements in our asset valuation on our financial statements. Our model is designed to create relatively stable and predictable cash flows from both underwriting and interest income to meet insurance liabilities, which should allow us to avoid being forced to sell assets at inopportune times.
The following chart shows the composition of our non-investment grade portfolio as of September 30, 2018:
Total: $1,928.3 million
Our investment guidelines permit HPS to utilize leverage in managing assets of Watford Re and Watford Trust (but not WICE, WSIC or WIC). Any such leverage, expressed as the excess of the value of the long investments of the portfolio of Watford Re or Watford Trust (valued using the methodologies set forth in Watford Re’s or Watford Trust’s investment management agreement with HPS, as applicable, and referred to as the Long Market Value), as applicable, over the net asset value of the portfolio as a percentage of the net asset value of the portfolio, is generally not to exceed 80%. See “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with HPS-Investment management agreements.” Leverage may take a variety of forms, including borrowings to purchase additional assets, trading on margin total return swaps and other derivatives, and the use of inherently leveraged instruments. Depending on the extent of the leverage utilized for our non-investment grade portfolio, the net value of our investment assets will increase or decrease at a greater rate than if leverage were not utilized.
The following chart shows the use of borrowings in our non-investment grade portfolio since 2014 and the Credit Suisse High Yield Index’s Spread-to-Worst since 2014. The spread-to-worst of the index is defined as the weighted average spread-to-worst of the bonds included in the index, where the spread-to-worst for each bond is the difference between the yield-to-worst for that bond and the yield of a U.S. Treasury security with a comparable maturity. The yield-to-worst for each bond is determined by computing the yield for that bond at all possible principal repayment dates, including the maturity date and each redemption date. The minimum of these calculated yields is the yield-to-worst, provided that, by definition, the yield must be above the yield of a U.S. Treasury security with a maturity date comparable to the bond’s yield-to-worst principal repayment date.
In the period since our inception, the credit-focused investment market experienced both a widening and then a tightening of credit spreads. As shown on the chart below, HPS, on our behalf, increased the deployment of assets into our credit-focused strategy through borrowings from our credit facility during the period in which credit spreads widened and then contracted the deployment of assets accordingly when credit spreads tightened. As demonstrated by the “Non-Investment Grade Portfolio Borrowing Ratio” chart below, our usage of borrowings to purchase additional assets in the non-investment grade portfolio increased as the Credit Suisse High Yield Index’s Spread-to-Worst widened, reflecting HPS’s view that these periods presented more attractive investment opportunities. When credit spreads later tightened, HPS, on our behalf, sold assets and we used the proceeds to repay borrowings from the credit facility.
In the chart above, the term “Borrowing Ratio” represents borrowings to purchase investments divided by the market value of the non-investment grade portfolio net of these borrowings. From time to time, HPS takes short positions, and hedges or leverages the portfolio exposure through derivative instruments or otherwise. The chart above does not reflect the value of short positions or leverage inherent in derivative positions, and thus may not be fully reflective of the market exposure of the portfolio at any given time.
The charts below compare our return on our non-investment grade portfolio to the benchmarks of the Credit Suisse High Yield Index and Leveraged Loan Index performance. Because our non-investment grade portfolio contains both high yield bonds and leveraged loans, we show a comparison of our non-investment grade portfolio returns to a 50/50 blend of the Credit Suisse High Yield Index and Leveraged Loan Index. Notwithstanding this comparison, the actual relative percentage composition of our non-investment grade portfolio is not designed to be a 50/50 allocation between high yield bonds and leveraged loans and it is unlikely that the composition of our non-investment grade portfolio will ever equal that metric.
From Inception Through September 30, 2018
CS HY Index
CS LL Index
(1) Represents Watford’s net investment return on its HPS managed, non-investment grade portfolio. Net investment return in calculated as net investment income divided by average net invested assets from the non-investment grade portfolio. Net invested assets is calculated as the sum of total investments, accrued investment income and receivables for securities sold, less revolving credit agreement borrowings, payable for securities purchased and payable for securities sold short.
(2) Annualized return calculated as (1+ ITD Return)^(1/4.5 years)-1
(3) Volatility is calculated as the standard deviation of the quarterly returns over the period from inception through September 30, 2018.
Our non-investment grade portfolio may purchase or short-sell securities without an offsetting position in a related security based on HPS’s determination that a particular security is undervalued or overvalued. Our non-investment grade portfolio may engage in interest rate hedging using swaps, treasuries, interest rate futures or other derivative instruments. Additionally, our non-
investment grade portfolio may employ single name and index credit derivatives in an attempt to hedge credit exposure.
HPS combines a disciplined investment approach with a substantial platform for transaction sourcing. Through this platform, HPS’s investment professionals seek to identify and invest in a select number of investment opportunities. HPS is required to adhere to our non-investment grade portfolio’s investment guidelines and provides us with regular non-investment grade portfolio risk and performance updates, and provides a risk and performance review to our board of directors on a quarterly basis.
HPS’s investment process is driven by a rigorous investment screening and selection process, with the stated objective of generating attractive risk-adjusted returns comprising current interest income, trading gains and capital appreciation, with an emphasis on capital preservation. As part of HPS’s investment process, HPS manages our non-investment grade portfolio in accordance with the non-investment grade investment guidelines. HPS’s investment process emphasizes fundamental analysis and due diligence by seeking to evaluate potential investments based upon review and analysis of available public and private information including: (i) historical financial information; (ii) financial projections; (iii) business, sector and industry diligence; and (iv) legal analysis of the company and investment documentation. When possible, HPS seeks to achieve robust asset coverage in its investments.
Since our inception in 2014, starting with our initial $1.13 billion capital raise, HPS has methodically deployed the assets that we have allocated to our non-investment grade portfolio as market opportunities arose. As a result, until our non-investment grade allocation of our initial capital and underwriting float was fully deployed by HPS, our historical investment income was not reflective of a fully invested non-investment grade portfolio. The following chart depicts the deployment of the portion of our assets allocated to this non-investment grade investment strategy, including a breakout of the amount of borrowings related to purchases of non-investment grade investments in this portfolio and the commensurate increase in net interest income during the period of higher asset deployment into our credit-focused strategy. In the chart below and throughout this registration statement, in connection with our non-investment grade portfolio, the term “net non-investment grade assets” are our total invested assets allocated to our non-investment grade investment strategy less borrowings to purchase such investments, and “net interest income” is interest income net management fees paid to HPS and borrowing costs.
The investments in our non-investment grade portfolio in 2014 were predominantly leveraged loans, based on HPS’s then-current view of the relative value of those assets versus bonds. Since that time, the proportion in bonds has grown to approximately one-half of the non-investment grade portfolio as of September 30, 2018, which is in line with our investment targets. The following chart shows the size and composition of our non-investment grade portfolio since the commencement of portfolio operations in 2014.
The table below provides the compensation to HPS incurred for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017, and the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Three Months Ended September 30,
Nine Months Ended September 30,
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands)
Investment management fees and performance fees to HPS
Investment grade portfolio
In conducting our underwriting business, we maintain a portion of our assets in investment grade securities and cash. The size of our investment grade portfolio and the amount we hold in cash will vary over time based on the business we write. We hold a certain amount of investment grade securities and short-term investments, largely to satisfy regulatory requirements for our U.S. insurance subsidiaries or to post as collateral for certain of Watford Re’s clients for commercial reasons or to obtain regulatory credit for the reinsurance they purchase. As of September 30, 2018, approximately 4.3% of our investment grade portfolio was held in our U.S. subsidiaries, 92.2% was posted as collateral and the remaining 3.5% were discretionary investments.
Our investment grade portfolio is primarily managed by AIM, with certain accounts managed by third-party managers, and generally holds corporate credits assets, government bonds, and asset and mortgage-backed securities. AIM and each third-party manager manages our investment grade portfolio pursuant to investment management agreements that it has entered into with Watford Re and each of our operating subsidiaries. For a discussion of our agreements with AIM, see “Item 7.
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with Arch-Investment management agreements.” Subject to our investment guidelines for this portfolio, AIM and these third-party managers make all applicable investment decisions on our behalf.
As of September 30, 2018, we had $2,776.0 million of invested assets, with $847.6 million in our investment grade portfolio, of which $775.5 million were investment grade assets managed by AIM. The following chart describes the composition of our investment grade portfolio as of September 30, 2018:
Total: $847.6 million
The table below provides the compensation to AIM for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017, and the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Three Months Ended September 30,
Nine Months Ended September 30,
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands)
Investment management fees to AIM
Insurance and reinsurance companies derive substantially all of their revenues from net earned premiums, interest income and net gains and losses from investment securities. Gross written premiums represent amounts, net of acquisition costs, received from policyholders (in insurance) and ceding companies (in reinsurance). Net earned premiums represent the portion of net premiums (gross written premiums less premiums ceded for reinsurance purchased from third parties) which are recognized as revenue over the period of time that coverage is provided (i.e., ratably over the life of the policy). In underwriting operations, “float” arises when premiums are received before losses and other expenses are paid and is an interval that sometimes extends over many years. During that time, the insurer invests the premiums, earns interest income and may generate capital gains and losses.
The type of coverage and source of premiums are often classified based on how long an insurer may have between the policy period and when losses are settled under the policy. The length of time between receiving premiums and paying out claims, commonly referred to as the “tail,” can significantly affect how profitable float can be. Long-tail losses pay out over longer periods of time, providing the insurance or reinsurance company the opportunity to generate significant investment earnings. Short-tail losses pay out over shorter periods of time, providing the insurance or reinsurance company with a reduced opportunity to generate investment earnings. As of September 30, 2018, the modeled duration of our claims reserves was approximately 4.9 years.
The broader P&C insurance and reinsurance market has long been subject to market cycles. “Soft” markets occur when the supply of insurance capital in a given market or territory is greater than the amount of insurance capital necessary to meet the coverage needs of the insureds in that market. When this occurs, insurance prices tend to decline and policy terms and conditions become more favorable to the insured. Conversely, there are periods when there is not enough insurance capital in the market to meet that insurance need, leading to a “hard” market during which insurance prices generally rise and policy terms and conditions become more favorable to the insurer.
Reinsurance is an arrangement in which a reinsurance company agrees to indemnify an insurance company, the “cedant,” against all or a portion of the insurance exposures underwritten by the cedant under one or more insurance underlying contracts. Reinsurance does not discharge the cedant from its liability to policyholders; rather, it reimburses the cedant for covered losses. Reinsurance can provide a cedant with several benefits, including a reduction in its net liability on individual exposures or classes of exposures or a reduction in operating leverage as measured by the ratio of net premiums and reserves to capital. Reinsurance also provides a cedant with additional underwriting capacity by permitting it to accept larger exposures and write more business than otherwise would be acceptable to policyholders or regulators relative to the cedant’s financial resources. Cedants can use reinsurance to manage their overall risk profile or to create additional underwriting capacity, allowing them to accept larger risks or to write more business than would otherwise be possible, absent an increase in their capital or surplus. Reinsurers may also purchase reinsurance. Such transactions are termed “retrocessions” with the ceding (purchasing) reinsurer being the “retrocedant” and the assuming (selling) reinsurer the “retrocessionaire.” Other than terminology, reinsurance and retrocession operate in a similar manner.
According to A.M. Best, non-life net premiums written in the global reinsurance market has grown by 15.1% to $153 billion from 2012 to 2017. As indicated in the chart below, reinsurance industry capital has increased in recent years primarily due to favorable loss reserve development and the lack of major catastrophe events recently.
Source: Aon Benfield Analytics
Given the increase in dedicated reinsurance capital and the slower increase in reinsurance net premiums written, the global reinsurance market has seen a decrease in projected underwriting profitability. This represents an advantage for total return insurers such as us who have an increased potential to generate higher returns from investment income than traditional reinsurers.
P&C insurance companies provide insurance coverage under a policy in exchange for premiums paid by the customer. An insurance policy is a contract between the insurance company and the insured under which the insurance company agrees to pay for losses suffered by the insured, or a third-party claimant, that are covered under the insurance contract. Property insurance, which covers the insured for losses to the insured’s property, is generally considered to be short-tailed. Casualty insurance, which covers the insured against liability claims by third parties, is generally considered to be medium- to long-tailed.
In 2017, global P&C direct premiums written totaled approximately $2.23 trillion and according to A.M. Best, the U.S. P&C insurance industry is the largest P&C market in the world by premium volume. In 2017, the U.S. P&C insurance market generated $642 billion, or approximately 29% of P&C direct premiums written worldwide.
Source: Prepared by management based on information obtained from A.M. Best.
The U.S. P&C insurance industry is further subdivided between the standard lines market (also referred to as the admitted market) and the non-standard lines market (also referred to as the non-admitted, excess-and-surplus lines or E&S market). Admitted insurers are those that hold licenses to write the particular lines (types) of insurance coverage in each state in which they write business, and they thereby are subject to each such state’s regulatory authority. In contrast, E&S insurers receive broad permission to write excess-and-surplus lines business from the regulator in each state in which they write business, but are subject to certain rules that govern the E&S market, such as no admitted insurer being willing to write the coverage on equivalent terms.
In 2017, E&S direct premiums written in the U.S. P&C insurance market totaled approximately $45 billion. This market functions as a supplemental market that covers hard-to-place, higher-risk and unique classes of business that do not fit standard lines insurers’ underwriting guidelines. Unlike admitted insurers, E&S insurers are subject to only limited rate and form regulations by the state insurance regulators. E&S insurance companies may negotiate price and coverage on a risk-by-risk basis whereas standard lines insurance carriers are subject to various regulations, including rate and policy form filings, which limit price and coverage flexibility. This allows the unique qualities of the underlying risk to be fully evaluated and underwritten and provides the E&S insurer with greater flexibility to customize pricing and terms and conditions to meet the needs of the insured. Competition in the E&S market tends to focus less on price than in the standard lines insurance market and more on other value-based considerations such as availability, terms of coverage, customer service and underwriting expertise. Because of these characteristics, the E&S market is attractive to us and provides us with flexibility in product design where we feel that our integrated strategy gives us a competitive advantage in devising client solutions.
Insurers and reinsurers generally compete on the basis of many factors, including premium charges, general reputation, perceived financial strength, terms and conditions of the products offered, general service level, speed of claims payment, experience in the particular line of insurance to be written and ratings assigned by independent rating agencies. Watford Re, as well as each of our other operating subsidiaries, carries a financial strength rating of “A-” (Excellent) from A.M. Best and “A” from KBRA.
The insurance and reinsurance industry is highly competitive. We compete with major U.S. and non-U.S. insurers and reinsurers, many of which have greater financial, marketing and management resources than we do, as well as other potential providers of capital willing to assume insurance or reinsurance risk. We also compete with new companies that continue to be formed to enter the insurance and reinsurance markets. In addition, continued consolidation within the industry will further enhance the already competitive underwriting environment. These consolidated entities may use their enhanced market power and broader capital base to negotiate price reductions for products and services that compete with ours and we may experience rate declines and possibly write less business. In our underwriting business, we compete with insurers that provide specialty P&C lines of insurance and reinsurance, including, among others: Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited, AXIS Capital Holdings Limited, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., Chubb Limited, Everest Re Group Ltd., Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd., Hannover Rückversicherung AG, Lloyd’s, Markel Corporation, Munich Re Group, PartnerRe Ltd., RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd., Third Point Reinsurance Ltd., Transatlantic Reinsurance Company and AXA XL Ltd.
See “Item 1A. Risk Factors-Risks related to our insurance and reinsurance business-We operate in a highly competitive environment and we may not be able to compete successfully in our industry.”
In accordance with our strategy to maintain an efficient operational structure with minimal fixed expenses, we have chosen to operate largely through experienced service partners, each of which is paid on a variable cost basis and which are monitored by our senior management team.
As of September 30, 2018, we had ten full-time employees, eight of whom were based in Bermuda, one of whom was based in the United States and one of whom was based in Europe. In addition, pursuant to our services agreements with Arch, as of September 30, 2018, there were thirty-five designated employees of both Arch and us who were provided to us on a non-exclusive basis to perform various services in connection with our insurance and reinsurance operations (including seven that were designated as officers of WSIC and/or WIC and, in such capacities, negotiate and bind reinsurance, execute documentation and perform other related functions for WSIC and/or WIC, as applicable). We believe that our employee relations are good. None of our employees are subject to collective bargaining agreements and we are not aware of any current efforts to implement such agreements.
Pursuant to our services agreements with Arch, Arch is responsible for the connectivity and maintenance of our information technology systems in Bermuda, the United States and Europe. These are the same systems that Arch utilizes for its own operations, accounting and to service its underwriting portfolios. Arch maintains the secure information technology environment, including secure Internet connections and electronic data transmission.
Such information technology and application systems are an important part of our underwriting process and our ability to compete successfully. We license the majority of our systems and data from third parties. Arch’s information technology team constantly monitors the system for breaches
or failures, including those resulting from a cyberattack on us or our business partners and service providers.
We use our information technology systems to process, transmit, store and protect our electronic information, financial data and proprietary models that we utilize in our business and for the communications between our employees and our business, banking and investment partners.
Arch has established and implemented security measures, controls and procedures that it believes are appropriate to safeguard its and our information technology systems and to prevent unauthorized access to such systems and any data processed or stored in such systems, and our system is periodically evaluated and tested by expert third parties for the adequacy of such systems, controls and procedures. In addition, we have established, and continue to augment, a business continuity plan which is designed to ensure that we are able to maintain all aspects of our key business processes functioning in the midst of certain disruptive events, including any disruptions to or breaches of our information technology systems. Our business continuity plan has been tested and evaluated for adequacy.
See “Item 8. Legal Proceedings.”
Our corporate structure
The following chart presents a summary overview of our corporate structure.
Bermuda insurance regulation
The Insurance Act, pursuant to which the BMA regulates Watford Re, provides that no person shall carry on insurance or reinsurance business in or from within Bermuda, unless registered under the Insurance Act by the BMA. The Insurance Act does not distinguish between insurers and reinsurers: companies are registered under the Insurance Act as “insurers.” The Insurance Act uses the defined term “insurance business” to include reinsurance.
The BMA is required by the Insurance Act to determine whether the applicant is a fit and proper body to be engaged in the insurance or reinsurance business and, in particular, whether it has, or has available to it, adequate knowledge and expertise. The registration of an applicant as an insurer is subject to its complying with the terms of its registration and such other conditions as the BMA may impose at any time.
The Insurance Act imposes solvency and liquidity standards on Bermuda insurance and reinsurance companies, as well as auditing and reporting requirements. The Insurance Act also grants to the BMA powers to supervise, investigate and intervene in the affairs of insurance and reinsurance companies.
Certain significant aspects of the Bermuda insurance and reinsurance regulatory framework are set forth below.
Classification of insurers
The Insurance Act distinguishes between insurers and reinsurers carrying on long-term business, insurers and reinsurers carrying on general business and insurers and reinsurers carrying on special purpose business. There are six classifications of insurers and reinsurers carrying on general business, ranging from Class 1 insurers (pure captives subject to the lightest regulation) to Class 4 insurers (large commercial carriers subject to the most stringent regulation). Watford Re is licensed as a Class 4 insurer in Bermuda and is regulated as such under the Insurance Act.
Classification as a Class 4 insurer
A body corporate is registrable as a Class 4 insurer where (i) it has at the time of its application for registration, or will have before it carries on insurance or reinsurance business, a total statutory capital and surplus of not less than U.S. $100 million; and (ii) it intends to carry on general insurance and/or reinsurance business, including excess liability business or property catastrophe reinsurance business.
Minimum paid up share capital
Class 4 insurers are required to maintain fully paid-up share capital of at least U.S. $1 million.
Principal office and principal representative
As a Class 4 insurer, Watford Re is required to maintain a head and a principal office in Bermuda and to appoint and maintain a principal representative in Bermuda. For the purposes of the Insurance Act, the principal office of Watford Re is located at Waterloo House, 1st Floor, 100 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke HM 08, Bermuda. Watford Re’s principal representative is Robert Hawley, the Chief Financial Officer of Watford Re.
Without a reason acceptable to the BMA, a Class 4 insurer may not terminate the appointment of its principal representative, and the principal representative may not cease to act as such, unless 30 days’ notice in writing to the BMA is given of the intention to do so.
It is the duty of the principal representative to forthwith notify the BMA where the principal representative reaches the view that there is a likelihood of the Class 4 insurer becoming insolvent, or on it coming to the knowledge of the principal representative, or the principal representative has reasonable grounds for believing that a reportable “event” has occurred. Examples of a reportable “event” include a failure by the Class 4 insurer to comply substantially with a condition imposed upon it by the BMA relating to a solvency margin or a liquidity or other ratio, a significant loss reasonably likely to cause the Class 4 insurer to fail to comply with its enhanced capital requirement (discussed below) and the occurrence of a “material change” (as such term is defined under the Insurance Act) in its business operations.
Within 14 days of such notification to the BMA, the principal representative must furnish the BMA with a written report setting out all the particulars of the case that are available to the principal representative.
Where there has been a significant loss which is reasonably likely to cause the Class 4 insurer to fail to comply with its enhanced capital requirement, the principal representative must also furnish the BMA with a capital and solvency return reflecting an enhanced capital requirement prepared using
post-loss data. The principal representative must provide this within 45 days of notifying the BMA regarding the loss.
Furthermore, where a notification has been made to the BMA regarding a material change, the principal representative has 30 days from the date of such notification to furnish the BMA with unaudited interim statutory financial statements in relation to such period as the BMA may require, together with a general business solvency certificate in respect of those statements.
As a Class 4 insurer, Watford Re is required to maintain its head office in Bermuda and its insurance business must be directed and managed from Bermuda. In determining whether Watford Re satisfies this requirement, the BMA shall consider, among other things, the following factors: (i) where the underwriting, risk management and operational decision making of Watford Re occurs; (ii) whether the presence of senior executives who are responsible for, and involved in, the decision making related to the insurance business of Watford Re are located in Bermuda; and (iii) where meetings of the board of directors of Watford Re occur. In making its determination, the BMA may also have regard to: (i) the location where management of Watford Re meets to effect policy decisions of Watford Re; (ii) the residence of the officers, insurance managers or employees of Watford Re; and (iii) the residence of one or more directors of Watford Re in Bermuda. This provision does not apply to an insurer that has a permit to conduct business in Bermuda under the Companies Act or the Non-Resident Insurance Undertakings Act 1967.
Loss reserve specialist
As a Class 4 insurer, Watford Re is required to appoint an individual approved by the BMA to be its loss reserve specialist. In order to qualify as an approved loss reserve specialist, the applicant must be an individual qualified to provide an opinion in accordance with the requirements of the Insurance Act and the BMA must be satisfied that the individual is fit and proper to hold such an appointment.
A Class 4 insurer is required to submit annually an opinion of its approved loss reserve specialist with its capital and solvency return. The loss reserve specialist’s opinion must state, among other things, whether or not the aggregate amount of technical provisions shown in the statutory economic balance sheet as at the end of the relevant financial year: (i) meets the requirements of the Insurance Act and (ii) makes reasonable provision for the total technical provisions of the insurer or reinsurer under the terms of its insurance or reinsurance contracts and agreements.
Annual financial statements
Watford Re is required to prepare and submit, on an annual basis, audited GAAP and statutory financial statements, as defined below.
The Insurance Act prescribes rules for the preparation and substance of statutory financial statements (which include, in statutory form, a balance sheet, an income statement, a statement of capital and surplus and notes thereto). The statutory financial statements include detailed information and analysis regarding premiums, claims, reinsurance and investments of the insurer or reinsurer.
In addition, Watford Re is also required to prepare and submit to the BMA financial statements which have been prepared under generally accepted accounting principles or international financial reporting standards, or GAAP financial statements. Watford Re’s annual GAAP financial statements and the auditor’s report thereon, and the statutory financial statements are required to be filed with the BMA within four months from the end of the relevant financial year (unless specifically extended with the approval of the BMA). The statutory financial statements do not form a part of the public records maintained by the BMA, but the GAAP financial statements are available for public inspection.
Declaration of compliance
At the time of filing its statutory financial statements, a Class 4 insurer is also required to deliver to the BMA a declaration of compliance, in such form and with such content as may be prescribed by the BMA, declaring whether or not the Class 4 insurer has, with respect to the preceding financial year: (i) complied with all requirements of the minimum criteria applicable to it; (ii) complied with the minimum margin of solvency as at its financial year end; (iii) complied with the applicable enhanced capital requirements as at its financial year end; (iv) complied with applicable conditions, directions and restrictions on, or approvals granted to, the Class 4 insurer; and (v) complied with the minimum liquidity ratio as at its financial year end. The declaration of compliance is required to be signed by two directors of the Class 4 insurer and if the Class 4 insurer has failed to comply with any of the requirements referenced in (i) through (v) above, the Class 4 insurer will be required to provide the BMA with particulars of such failure in writing. A Class 4 insurer shall be liable to a civil penalty by way of a fine for failure to comply with a duty imposed on it in connection with the delivery of the declaration of compliance.
Annual statutory financial return and annual capital and solvency return
As a Class 4 insurer, Watford Re is required to file with the BMA a statutory financial return no later than four months after its financial year end (unless specifically extended with the approval of the BMA). The statutory financial return of a Class 4 insurer shall consist of: (i) an insurer information sheet; (ii) an auditor’s report; (iii) the statutory financial statements; and (iv) notes to the statutory financial statements.
The insurer information sheet shall state, among other matters: (i) whether the general purpose financial statements of Watford Re for the relevant year have been audited and an unqualified opinion issued; (ii) the minimum margin of solvency applying to Watford Re and whether such margin was met; (iii) whether or not the minimum liquidity ratio applying to Watford Re for the relevant year was met; and (iv) whether or not Watford Re has complied with every condition attached to its certificate of registration. The insurer information sheet shall state if any of the questions identified in items (ii), (iii) or (iv) above is answered in the negative, whether or not Watford Re has taken corrective action in any case and, where Watford Re has taken such action, describe the action in an attached statement.
The directors are required to certify whether the minimum solvency margin has been met, and the independent approved auditor is required to state whether in its opinion it was reasonable for the directors to make this certification.
Where an insurer’s accounts have been audited for any purpose other than compliance with the Insurance Act, a statement to that effect must be filed with the statutory financial return.
In addition, each year Watford Re is required to file with the BMA a capital and solvency return along with its annual statutory financial return. The prescribed form of capital and solvency return comprises Watford Re’s Bermuda Solvency Capital Requirement, or BSCR, model or an approved internal capital model in lieu thereof (more fully described below), a schedule of fixed income and equity investments by BSCR rating, a schedule of funds held by ceding reinsurers in segregated accounts/trusts by BSCR rating, a schedule of net loss and loss expense provisions by line of business, a schedule of geographic diversification of net loss and loss expense provisions, a schedule of premiums written by line of business, a schedule of geographic diversification of net premiums written by line of business, a schedule of risk management, a schedule of fixed income securities, a schedule of commercial insurer’s solvency self-assessment, a schedule of catastrophe risk return, a schedule of loss triangles or reconciliation of net loss reserves, a schedule of eligible capital, a statutory economic balance sheet, the loss reserve specialist’s opinion, a schedule of regulated non-insurance financial operating entities, a schedule of solvency, a schedule of particulars of ceded reinsurance, a schedule of cash and cash equivalent counterparty analysis, a schedule of currency risk and a schedule of concentration risk.
Neither the statutory financial return nor the capital and solvency return is available for public inspection.
Quarterly financial return
As a Class 4 insurer, Watford Re is required to prepare and file quarterly financial returns with the BMA on or before the last day of the months of May, August and November of each year. The quarterly financial returns consist of: (i) quarterly unaudited financial statements for each financial quarter (which must minimally include a balance sheet and income statement and must also be recent and not reflect a financial position that exceeds two months); (ii) a list and details of material intra-group transactions that Watford Re is a party to and Watford Re’s risk concentrations that have materialized since the most recent quarterly or annual financial returns, details surrounding all intra-group reinsurance and retrocession arrangements and other intra-group risk transfer insurance business arrangements that have materialized since the most recent quarterly or annual financial returns; and (iii) details of the ten largest exposures to unaffiliated counterparties and any other unaffiliated counterparty exposures exceeding 10% of Watford Re’s statutory capital and surplus.
Pursuant to recent amendments to the Insurance Act all commercial insurers, reinsurers, insurance groups and reinsurance groups are required to prepare and file with the BMA, and also publish on their website, a financial condition report. The BMA has discretion to approve modifications and exemptions to the public disclosure rules, on application by the insurer or reinsurer if, among other things, the BMA is satisfied that the disclosure of certain information will result in a competitive disadvantage or compromise confidentiality obligations of the insurer or reinsurer.
Independent approved auditor
A Class 4 insurer must appoint an independent auditor who will audit and report on the Class 4 insurer’s GAAP financial statements and provide audit assurance that its statutory financial statements were derived from its GAAP financial statements, each of which are required to be filed annually with the BMA.
No Class 4 insurer may engage in non-insurance business, unless that non-insurance business is ancillary to its core business. Non-insurance business means any business other than insurance or reinsurance business and includes carrying on investment business, managing an investment fund as operator, carrying on business as a fund administrator, carrying on banking business, underwriting debt or securities or otherwise engaging in investment banking, engaging in commercial or industrial activities and carrying on the business of management, sales or leasing of real property.
Minimum solvency margin and enhanced capital requirements
The Insurance Act provides that the value of the statutory assets of an insurer must exceed the value of its statutory liabilities by an amount greater than its prescribed minimum solvency margin, or MSM.
The MSM that must be maintained by a Class 4 insurer with respect to its general business is the greater of (i) $100 million or (ii) 50% of net premiums written (with a credit for reinsurance ceded not exceeding 25% of gross premiums) or (iii) 15% of net loss and loss expense provisions and other insurance reserves or (iv) 25% of the ECR as reported at the end of the relevant year.
Class 4 insurers are also required to maintain available statutory economic capital and surplus at a level equal to or in excess of its ECR which is established by reference to either the BSCR model or an approved internal capital model.
The BSCR model is a risk-based capital model which provides a method for determining an insurer’s capital requirements (statutory economic capital and surplus) by taking into account the risk characteristics of different aspects of Watford Re’s business. The BSCR formula establishes capital requirements for ten categories of risk: fixed income investment risk, equity investment risk, interest rate/liquidity risk, currency risk, concentration risk, premium risk, reserve risk, credit risk, catastrophe risk and operational risk. For each category, the capital requirement is determined by applying factors to asset, premium, reserve, creditor, probable maximum loss and operation items, with higher factors applied to items with greater underlying risk and lower factors for less risky items.
While not specifically referred to in the Insurance Act (or required thereunder), the BMA has also established a target capital level, or TCL, for each Class 4 insurer equal to 120% of its ECR. The TCL serves as an early warning tool for the BMA and failure to maintain statutory capital at least equal to the TCL will likely result in increased regulatory oversight.
Any Class 4 insurer which at any time fails to meet its MSM requirements must, upon becoming aware of such failure, immediately notify the BMA and, within 14 days thereafter, file a written report with the BMA containing particulars of the circumstances that gave rise to the failure and setting out its plan detailing specific actions to be taken and the expected timeframe in which Watford Re intends to rectify the failure.
Any Class 4 insurer which at any time fails to meet its applicable enhanced capital requirement shall upon becoming aware of that failure, or of having reason to believe that such a failure has occurred, immediately notify the BMA in writing and within 14 days of such notification file with the BMA a written report containing particulars of the circumstances leading to the failure; and a plan detailing the manner, specific actions to be taken and time within which Watford Re intends to rectify the failure and within 45 days of becoming aware of that failure, or of having reason to believe that such a failure has occurred, furnish the BMA with: (i) unaudited statutory economic balance sheets and unaudited interim statutory financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP covering such period as the BMA may require; (ii) the opinion of a loss reserve specialist in relation to the total general business insurance technical provisions as set out in the economic balance sheet, where applicable; (iii) a general business solvency certificate in respect of the financial statements; and (iv) a capital and solvency return reflecting an enhanced capital requirement prepared using post-failure data where applicable.
To enable the BMA to better assess the quality of the Class 4 insurer’s capital resources, a Class 4 insurer is required to disclose the makeup of its capital in accordance with the “3-tiered eligible capital system.” Under this system, all of the Class 4 insurer’s capital instruments will be classified as either basic or ancillary capital which in turn will be classified into one of three tiers based on their “loss absorbency” characteristics. Highest quality capital will be classified Tier 1 Capital and lesser quality capital will be classified as either Tier 2 Capital or Tier 3 Capital. Under this regime, up to certain specified percentages of Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Capital may be used to support the Class 4 insurer’s MSM, ECR and TCL.
The characteristics of the capital instruments that must be satisfied to qualify as Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Capital are set out in the Insurance (Eligible Capital) Rules 2012, and amendments thereto. Under these rules, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Capital may, until January 1, 2026, include capital instruments that do not satisfy the requirement that the instrument be non-redeemable or settled only with the issuance of an instrument of equal or higher quality upon a breach, or if it would cause a breach, of the ECR.
Minimum liquidity ratio
The Insurance Act provides a minimum liquidity ratio for general business insurers and reinsurers. A Class 4 insurer engaged in general business is required to maintain the value of its relevant assets at not less than 75% of the amount of its relevant liabilities. Relevant assets include cash and time deposits, quoted investments, unquoted bonds and debentures, first liens on real estate, investment income due and accrued, accounts and premiums receivable, reinsurance balances receivable, funds held by ceding reinsurers and any other assets which the BMA, on application in any particular case made to it with reasons, accepts in that case.
Certain categories of assets which, unless specifically permitted by the BMA, do not automatically qualify as relevant assets, such as unquoted equity securities, investments in and advances to affiliates and real estate and collateral loans.
The relevant liabilities include total general business insurance and reinsurance reserves and total other liabilities less deferred income tax and letters of credit and guarantees.
Code of conduct
The Insurance Code of Conduct, or the Insurance Code prescribes the duties, standards, procedures and sound business principles which must be complied with by all insurers and reinsurers registered under the Insurance Act. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Insurance Code will be taken into account by the BMA in determining whether an insurer or reinsurer is conducting its business in a sound and prudent manner as prescribed by the Insurance Act, may result in the BMA exercising its powers of intervention and investigation (see below) and will be a factor in calculating the operational risk charge under the insurer or reinsurer’s BSCR or approved internal model.
Restrictions on dividends and distributions
A Class 4 insurer is prohibited from declaring or paying a dividend if it is in breach of its MSM, ECR or minimum liquidity ratio or if the declaration or payment of such dividend would cause such a breach. Where a Class 4 insurer fails to meet its MSM or minimum liquidity ratio on the last day of any financial year, it will be prohibited from declaring or paying any dividends during the next financial year without the approval of the BMA.
In addition, a Class 4 insurer is prohibited from declaring or paying in any financial year dividends of more than 25% of its total statutory capital and surplus (as shown on its previous financial year’s statutory balance sheet), unless it files (at least seven days before payment of such dividends) with the BMA an affidavit signed by at least two directors (one of whom must be a Bermuda-resident director if any of the Class 4 insurer’s directors are resident in Bermuda) and the principal representative stating that it will continue to meet its solvency margin and minimum liquidity ratio. Where such an affidavit is filed, it shall be available for public inspection at the offices of the BMA.
Reduction of capital
A Class 4 insurer may not reduce its total statutory capital by 15% or more, as set out in its previous year’s financial statements, unless it has received the prior approval of the BMA. Total statutory capital consists of the insurer’s paid in share capital and its contributed surplus (sometimes called additional paid in capital) and any other fixed capital designated by the BMA as statutory capital (such as letters of credit).
A Class 4 insurer seeking to reduce its statutory capital by 15% or more, as set out in its previous year’s financial statements, is also required to submit an affidavit signed by at least two directors (one of whom must be a Bermuda-resident director if any of the Class 4 insurer’s directors are resident in Bermuda) and the principal representative stating that the proposed reduction will not cause it to fail its relevant margins and such other information as the BMA may require. Where such an affidavit is filed, it shall be available for public inspection at the offices of the BMA.
Supervision, investigation and intervention
The BMA may, by notice in writing served on a registered person or a designated insurer or reinsurer, require the registered person or designated insurer or reinsurer to provide such information and/or documentation as the BMA may reasonably require with respect to matters that are likely to be material to the performance of its supervisory functions under the Insurance Act. In addition, it may require the auditor, underwriter, accountant or any other person with relevant professional skill of such registered person or a designated insurer or reinsurer to prepare a report on any aspect pertaining thereto. In the case of a report, the person so appointed shall immediately give the BMA written notice of any fact or matter of which he becomes aware or which indicates to him that any condition attaching to his registration under the Insurance Act is not or has not, or may not be or may not have been fulfilled and that such matters are likely to be material to the performance of its functions under the Insurance Act. If it appears to the BMA to be desirable in the interests of the clients of a registered person or relevant insurance or reinsurance group, the BMA may also exercise these powers in relation to subsidiaries, parent companies and other affiliates of the registered person or designated insurer or reinsurer.
If the BMA deems it necessary to protect the interests of the policyholders or potential policyholders of an insurer, reinsurer, insurance group or reinsurance group, it may appoint one or more competent persons to investigate and report on the nature, conduct or state of the insurer, reinsurer, insurance group or reinsurance group’s business, or any aspect thereof, or the ownership or control of the insurer, reinsurer, insurance group or reinsurance group. If the person so appointed thinks it necessary for the purposes of his investigation, he may also investigate the business of any person who is or has been, at any relevant time, a member of the insurance group or reinsurance group or of a partnership of which the person being investigated is a member. In this regard, it shall be the duty of every person who is or was a controller, officer, employee, agent, banker, auditor, accountant, barrister, attorney or insurance manager to produce to the person appointed such documentation as he may reasonably require for the purpose of the investigation, and to attend and answer questions relevant to the investigation and to otherwise provide such assistance as may be necessary in connection therewith.
Where the BMA suspects that a person has failed to properly register under the Insurance Act or that a registered person or designated insurer or reinsurer has failed to comply with a requirement of the Insurance Act or that a person is not, or is no longer, a fit and proper person to perform functions in relation to a regulated activity, it may, by notice in writing, carry out an investigation into such person (or any other person connected thereto). In connection therewith, the BMA may require every person who is or was a controller, officer, employee, agent, banker, auditor, accountant, barrister, attorney or insurance manager to make a report and produce such documents in his care, custody and control and to attend before the BMA to answer questions relevant to the BMA’s investigation and to take such actions as the BMA may direct. The BMA may also enter any premises for the purposes of carrying out its investigation and may petition the court for a warrant if: (i) it believes a person has failed to comply with a notice served on him; (ii) there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the incompleteness of any information or documentation produced in response to such notice; or (iii) that its directions will not be complied with or that any relevant documents would be removed, tampered with or destroyed.
If it appears to the BMA that the business of the registered insurer or reinsurer is being conducted in a way that there is a significant risk of the insurer or reinsurer becoming insolvent or unable to meet its obligations to its policyholders, or that the insurer or reinsurer is in breach of the Insurance Act or any conditions imposed upon its registration, or the minimum criteria stipulated in the Insurance Act is not or has not been fulfilled in respect of a registered insurer or reinsurer, or that a person has become a controller without providing the BMA with the appropriate notice or in contravention of a notice of objection, or the registered insurer or reinsurer is in breach of its ECR, the BMA may issue such directions as it deems desirable for safeguarding the interests of the policyholders or potential policyholders of the insurer, reinsurer, insurance group or reinsurance
group. The BMA may, among other things, direct an insurer or reinsurer: (i) not to take on any new insurance or reinsurance business; (ii) not to vary any insurance or reinsurance contract if the effect would be to increase its liabilities; (iii) not to make certain investments; (iv) to realize certain investments; (v) to maintain or transfer to the custody of a specified bank, certain assets; (vi) not to declare or pay any dividends or other distributions or to restrict the making of such payments; (vii) to limit its premium income; (viii) not to enter into any specified transaction with any specified persons or persons of a specified class; (ix) to provide such written particulars relating to the financial circumstances of the insurer or reinsurer as the BMA thinks fit; (x) to obtain the opinion of a loss reserve specialist and to submit it to the BMA; and (xi) to remove a controller or officer.
Fit and proper controller
The BMA maintains supervision over the controllers of all registered insurers and reinsurers in Bermuda.
A controller includes: (i) the managing director of the registered insurer, reinsurer or its parent company; (ii) the chief executive of the registered insurer, reinsurer, or of its parent company; (iii) a 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% shareholder controller; and (iv) any person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of the registered insurer, reinsurer, or of its parent company are accustomed to act.
The definition of shareholder controller is set out in the Insurance Act, but generally refers to: (i) a person who holds 10% or more of the shares carrying rights to vote at a shareholders’ meeting of the registered insurer, reinsurer, or its parent company; (ii) a person who is entitled to exercise 10% or more of the voting power at any shareholders’ meeting of such registered insurer, reinsurer, or its parent company; or (iii) a person who is able to exercise significant influence over the management of the registered insurer, reinsurer, or its parent company by virtue of its shareholding or its entitlement to exercise, or control the exercise of, the voting power at any shareholders’ meeting.
A shareholder controller that owns 10% or more, but less than 20% of the shares as described above is defined as a 10% shareholder controller. A shareholder controller that owns 20% or more, but less than 33% of the shares as described above is defined as a 20% shareholder controller. A shareholder controller that owns 33% or more but less than 50% of the shares as described above is defined as a 33% shareholder controller. A shareholder controller that owns 50% or more of the shares as described above is defined as a 50% shareholder controller.
As our shares are currently not traded on a recognized stock exchange (i.e., private companies), the Insurance Act prohibits any person from becoming a controller of any description, unless he or she has first served on the BMA notice, in writing, stating that he or she intends to become such a controller and the BMA has either, before the end of 45 days following the date of notification, provided notice to the proposed controller that it does not object to his or her becoming such a controller or the full 45 days has elapsed without the BMA filing an objection. A shareholder controller of such insurer or reinsurer shall not reduce or dispose of its holdings such that it will cease to be a 50%, 33%, 20% or 10% shareholder unless that shareholder controller has served on the BMA a notice in writing that it intends to do so. Any person who contravenes the Insurance Act by failing to give notice or knowingly becoming a controller of any description before the required 45 days has elapsed, or disposing of shares and as a result ceasing to be a shareholder controller without notifying the BMA of their intention to do so, is guilty of an offense and liable to a fine of U.S. $25,000 on summary conviction.
Once our shares are traded on a recognized stock exchange, which includes NASDAQ, any person who becomes a 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% shareholder controller of us shall be required, within 45 days, to notify the BMA in writing that he or she has become such a controller. A shareholder controller is also required to serve notice in writing on the BMA within 45 days of reducing or disposing of shares such that it ceases to be a 50%, 33%, 20% or 10% shareholder controller. Any
person who fails to give any such notice is guilty of an offense and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of U.S. $25,000.
The BMA may file a notice of objection to any person who has become a controller of any description where it appears that such person is not or is no longer, a fit and proper person to be a controller of the registered insurer or reinsurer. Before issuing a notice of objection, the BMA is required to serve upon the person concerned a preliminary written notice stating the BMA’s intention to issue formal notice of objection and the reasons for which it appears that the person is not or no longer considered a fit and proper person. Upon receipt of the preliminary written notice, the person served may, within 28 days, file written representations with the BMA, which shall be taken into account by the BMA in making their final determination. Any person who continues to be a controller of any description after having received a notice of objection shall be guilty of an offense and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of U.S. $25,000 (and a continuing fine of U.S. $500 per day for each day that the offense is continuing) or, if convicted on indictment, to a fine of U.S. $100,000 or two years in prison or both.
Notification of material changes
All registered insurers and reinsurers are required to give notice to the BMA of their intention to effect a material change within the meaning of the Insurance Act. For the purposes of the Insurance Act, the following changes are material: (i) the transfer or acquisition of insurance or reinsurance business being part of a scheme falling within, or any transaction relating to a scheme of arrangement under, Section 25 of the Insurance Act or Section 99 of the Companies Act; (ii) the amalgamation with or acquisition of another firm; (iii) engaging in unrelated business that is retail business; (iv) the acquisition of a controlling interest in an undertaking that is engaged in non-insurance or non-reinsurance business which offers services and products to persons who are not affiliates of the insurer or reinsurer; (v) outsourcing all or substantially all of the company’s actuarial, risk management compliance and internal audit functions; (vi) outsourcing all or a material part of an insurer or reinsurer’s underwriting activity; (vii) the transfer other than by way of reinsurance of all or substantially all of a line of business; (viii) the expansion into a material new line of business; (ix) the sale of an insurer or reinsurer; and (x) outsourcing the role of the chief executive or senior executive performing the duties of underwriting, actuarial, risk management, compliance, internal audit, finance or investment matters.
No registered insurer or reinsurer shall take any steps to give effect to a material change, unless it has first served notice on the BMA that it intends to effect such material change and before the end of 30 days, either the BMA has notified such company in writing that it has no objection to such change or that period has lapsed without the BMA having issued a notice of objection.
Before issuing a notice of objection, the BMA is required to serve upon the person concerned a preliminary written notice stating the BMA’s intention to issue a formal notice of objection. Upon receipt of the preliminary written notice, the person served may, within 28 days, file written representations with the BMA which shall be taken into account by the BMA in making their final determination.
Notification by registered person of change of controllers and officers
Watford Re, as a Class 4 insurer, is required to give written notice to the BMA of the fact that a person has become, or ceased to be, a controller or officer of the Class 4 insurer within 45 days of becoming aware of such fact. An officer in relation to a registered insurer or reinsurer means a director, chief executive or senior executive performing duties of underwriting, actuarial, risk management, compliance, internal audit, finance or investment matters.
The BMA may, in respect of an insurance group, determine whether it is appropriate for it to act as its group supervisor. An insurance group is defined as a group of companies that conducts insurance
business. The Authority may make such determination where it ascertains that: (i) the group is headed by a “specified insurer” (that is to say, it is headed by either a Class 3A, Class 3B or Class 4 general business insurer or a Class C, Class D or Class E long-term insurer or another class of insurer designated by order of the BMA); (ii) where the insurance group is not headed by a “specified insurer,” where it is headed by a parent company which is incorporated in Bermuda; or (iii) where the parent company of the group is not a Bermuda company, in circumstances where the BMA is satisfied that the insurance group is directed and managed from Bermuda or the insurer with the largest balance sheet total is a specified insurer.
Where the BMA determines that it should act as the group supervisor, it shall designate a specified insurer that is a member of the insurance group to be the designated insurer, or the Designated Insurer, and it shall give to the Designated Insurer and other applicable insurance regulatory authority written notice of its intention to act as group supervisor. Before the BMA makes a final determination whether or not to act as group supervisor, it shall take into account any written representations made by the Designated Insurer submitted within such period as is specified in the notice.
The BMA may exclude any company that is a member of an insurance group from group supervision on the application of the Designated Insurer, or on its own initiative, provided the BMA is satisfied that: (i) the company is situated in a country or territory where there are legal impediments to cooperation and exchange of information; (ii) the financial operations of the company have a negligible impact on insurance group operations; or (iii) the inclusion of the company would be inappropriate with respect to the objectives of group supervision.
The BMA may, on its own initiative or on the application of the relevant Designated Insurer, include within group supervision a company that is a member of the group that is not on the Register of Group Particulars (described below) if it is satisfied the financial operations of the company in question may have a material impact on the insurance group’s operations and its inclusion would be appropriate having regard to the objectives of group supervision.
Once the BMA has been designated as group supervisor, the Designated Insurer must ensure that the insurance group of which it is a member appoints: (i) an individual approved by the BMA who is qualified as a group actuary to provide an opinion on the insurance group’s insurance technical provisions in accordance with the requirements of Schedule XIV “Group Statutory Economic Balance Sheet” of the Insurance (Prudential Standards) (Insurance Group Solvency Requirement) Rules 2011; and (ii) an auditor approved by the BMA to audit the financial statements of the group.
Pursuant to its powers under the Insurance Act, the BMA will maintain a register of particulars for every insurance group, or the Register of Group Particulars, for which it acts as the group supervisor, detailing the names and addresses of: (i) the Designated Insurer; (ii) each member company of the insurance group falling within the scope of group supervision; (iii) the principal representative of the insurance group in Bermuda; (iv) other competent authorities supervising other member companies of the insurance group; and (v) the insurance group auditors. The Designated Insurer must immediately notify the BMA of any changes to the above details entered on the Register of Group Particulars.
As group supervisor, the BMA will perform a number of supervisory functions including: (i) coordinating the gathering and dissemination of relevant or essential information for going concerns and emergency situations, including the dissemination of information which is of importance for the supervisory task of other competent authorities; (ii) carrying out supervisory reviews and assessments of the insurance group; (iii) carrying out assessments of the insurance group’s compliance with the rules on solvency, risk concentration, intra-group transactions and good governance procedures; (iv) planning and coordinating through regular meetings held at least annually (or by other appropriate means) with other competent authorities, supervisory activities in respect of the insurance group, both as a going concern and in emergency situations; (v) coordinating enforcement actions that may need to be taken against the insurance group or any of
its members; and (vi) planning and coordinating meetings of colleges of supervisors in order to facilitate the carrying out of the functions described above.
The BMA may, for the purposes of group supervision, make rules applying to Designated Insurers which take into account any activities of the insurance group of which they are members or of other members of the insurance group. Such rules may make provision for the assessment of the financial situation of the insurance group; the solvency position of the insurance group (including the imposition of prudential standards in relation to enhanced capital requirements, capital and solvency returns, insurance reserves and eligible capital that must be complied with by the Designated Insurers); the system of governance and risk management of the insurance group; intra-group transactions and risk concentrations; and supervisory reporting and disclosure in respect of the insurance group.
Watford Re was designated by the BMA as a Designated Insurer on May 5, 2017 and as such we are currently subject to group supervision.
Disclosure of information
In addition to powers under the Insurance Act to investigate the affairs of an insurer or reinsurer, the BMA may require certain information from an insurer or reinsurer (or certain other persons) to be produced to the BMA. Further, the BMA has been given powers to assist other regulatory authorities, including foreign insurance regulatory authorities, with their investigations involving insurance and reinsurance companies in Bermuda if it is satisfied that the assistance being requested is in connection with the discharge of regulatory responsibilities and that such cooperation is in the public interest. The grounds for disclosure are limited and the Insurance Act provides for sanctions for breach of the statutory duty of confidentiality.
Cancellation of insurer or reinsurer’s registration
An insurer or reinsurer’s registration may be canceled by the BMA on certain grounds specified in the Insurance Act. Failure by the insurer or reinsurer to comply with its obligations under the Insurance Act, or if the BMA believes that the insurer or reinsurer has not been carrying on business in accordance with sound insurance or reinsurance principles, would be such grounds.
Certain other Bermuda law considerations
All Bermuda exempted companies are exempt from certain Bermuda laws restricting the percentage of share capital that may be held by non-Bermudians. However, exempted companies may not participate in certain business transactions, including: (i) the acquisition or holding of land in Bermuda except that required for their business held by way of lease or tenancy for a term not exceeding 50 years or, with the consent of the Minister of Economic Development granted in his discretion, land by way of lease or tenancy for a term not exceeding 21 years in order to provide accommodation or recreational facilities for its officers and employees; (ii) the taking of mortgages on land in Bermuda to secure an amount in excess of B.D.$50,000 without the consent of the relevant Ministers; (iii) the acquisition of any bonds or debentures secured by any land in Bermuda, other bonds or debentures issued by the Bermuda government or a public authority; or (iv) the carrying on of business of any kind in Bermuda, except in furtherance of their business carried on outside Bermuda or under license granted by the Minister of Economic Development. Generally, it is not permitted without a special license granted by the Minister to insure or reinsure Bermuda domestic risks or risks of persons of, in or based in Bermuda.
All Bermuda companies must comply with the provisions of the Companies Act regulating the payment of dividends and making distributions from contributed surplus. A company may not declare or pay a dividend, or make a distribution out of contributed surplus, if there are reasonable grounds for believing that (i) it is, or would after the payment be, unable to pay its liabilities as they become due; or (ii) the realizable value of its assets would thereby be less than its liabilities.
United States insurance regulation
In common with other insurers, our U.S.-based subsidiaries are subject to extensive governmental regulation and supervision in the various states and jurisdictions in which they are domiciled and licensed and/or approved to conduct business. The laws and regulations of the state of domicile have the most significant impact on operations. This regulation and supervision is designed to protect policyholders rather than investors. Generally, regulatory authorities have broad regulatory powers over such matters as licenses, standards of solvency, premium rates, policy forms, marketing practices, claims practices, investments, security deposits, methods of accounting, form and content of financial statements, reserves and provisions for unearned premiums, unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses, reinsurance, minimum capital and surplus requirements, dividends and other distributions to shareholders, periodic examinations and annual and other report filings. In addition, transactions among affiliates, including reinsurance agreements or arrangements, as well as certain third-party transactions, require prior regulatory approval from, or prior notice to and no disapproval by, the applicable regulator under certain circumstances. Certain insurance regulatory requirements are highlighted below. In addition, regulatory authorities conduct periodic financial, claims and market conduct examinations.
Increased federal or state regulatory scrutiny could lead to new legal precedents, new regulations, new practices, or regulatory actions or investigations, which could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
Credit for reinsurance
Except for certain mandated provisions that must be included in order for a ceding company to obtain credit for reinsurance ceded, the terms and conditions of reinsurance agreements generally are not subject to regulation by any governmental authority. This contrasts with admitted primary insurance policies and agreements, the rates and terms of which generally are regulated by state insurance regulators.
Certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, or the Dodd-Frank Act, provide that only the state in which a primary insurer is domiciled may regulate the financial statement credit for reinsurance taken by that primary insurer.
A primary insurer ordinarily will enter into a reinsurance agreement only if it can obtain credit for the reinsurance ceded on its U.S. statutory-basis financial statements. In general, credit for reinsurance is allowed in the following circumstances: if the reinsurer is licensed in the state in which the primary insurer is domiciled; if the reinsurer is an “accredited” or otherwise approved reinsurer in the state in which the primary insurer is domiciled; in some instances, if the reinsurer (i) is domiciled in a state that is deemed to have substantially similar credit for reinsurance standards as the state in which the primary insurer is domiciled and (ii) meets certain financial requirements; or if none of the above applies, to the extent that the reinsurance obligations of the reinsurer are collateralized appropriately, typically through the posting of a letter of credit for the benefit of the primary insurer or the deposit of assets into a trust fund established for the benefit of the primary insurer.
WIC is an admitted insurer in 50 states and the District of Columbia. WSIC is eligible to issue insurance on an excess and surplus lines basis in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Watford Re does not expect to become licensed, accredited or so approved in any U.S. jurisdiction.
Holding company acts
All states have enacted legislation that regulates insurance holding company systems. These regulations generally provide that each insurance company in the system is required to register with the insurance department of its state of domicile and furnish information concerning the
operations of companies within the holding company system which may materially affect the operations, management or financial condition of the insurers within the system. All transactions within a holding company system affecting insurers must be fair and reasonable. Notice to the state insurance departments is required prior to the consummation of certain material transactions between an insurer and any entity in its holding company system. In addition, certain of such transactions cannot be consummated without the applicable insurance department’s prior approval, or its failure to disapprove after receiving notice. The holding company acts also prohibit any person from directly or indirectly acquiring control of a U.S. insurance company unless that person has filed an application with specified information with the insurance company’s domiciliary commissioner and has obtained the commissioner’s prior approval. Under most states’ statutes, including New Jersey (the state of domicile of our U.S. insurance subsidiaries), acquiring 10% or more of the voting securities of an insurance company or its parent company is presumptively considered an acquisition of control of the insurance company, although such presumption may be rebutted, as was the case for us, with Arch filing a disclaimer of control in connection with WSIC and WIC. Accordingly, any person or entity that acquires, directly or indirectly, 10% or more of our voting securities without the prior approval of the commissioner will be in violation of these laws and may be subject to injunctive action requiring the disposition or seizure of those securities by the commissioner or prohibiting the voting of those securities, or to other actions that may be taken by the commissioner. In 2010, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or the NAIC, adopted amendments to the Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act and Regulation, which, among other changes, introduce the concept of “enterprise risk” within an insurance holding company system. If and when the amendments are adopted by a particular state, the amended Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act and Regulation would impose more extensive informational requirements on parents and other affiliates of licensed insurers or reinsurers with the purpose of protecting them from enterprise risk, including requiring an annual enterprise risk report by the ultimate controlling person identifying the material risks within the insurance holding company system that could pose enterprise risk to the licensed companies. The amended Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act also requires any controlling person of a U.S. insurance company seeking to divest its controlling interest in the insurance company to file with the commissioner a confidential notice of the proposed divestiture at least 30 days prior to the cessation of control; after receipt of the notice, the commissioner shall determine those instances in which the parties seeking to divest or to acquire a controlling interest will be required to file for or obtain approval of the transaction. The amended Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act and Regulation must be adopted by the individual states for the new requirements to apply to U.S. domestic insurers and reinsurers. To date, every state and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation adopting the amended Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act in some form.
The NAIC has increased its focus on risks within an insurer’s holding company system that may pose enterprise risk to the insurer. “Enterprise risk” is defined as any activity, circumstance, event or series of events involving one or more affiliates of an insurer that, if not remedied promptly, is likely to have a material adverse effect upon the financial condition or the liquidity of the insurer or its insurance holding company system as a whole. As noted above, in 2010, the NAIC adopted amendments to its Model Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act and Regulation, which include, among other amendments, a requirement for the ultimate controlling person to file an enterprise risk report annually. In 2012, the NAIC adopted the Risk Management and Own Risk and Solvency Assessment, or ORSA, Model Act, which requires domestic insurers to maintain a risk management framework and establishes a legal requirement for domestic insurers to conduct an ORSA in accordance with the NAIC’s ORSA Guidance Manual. The ORSA Model Act provides that domestic insurers, or their insurance group, must regularly conduct an ORSA consistent with a process comparable to the ORSA Guidance Manual process. The ORSA Model Act also provides that, no more than once a year, an insurer’s domiciliary regulator may request that an insurer submit an ORSA summary report, or any combination of reports that together contain the information
described in the ORSA Guidance Manual, with respect to the insurer and/or the insurance group of which it is a member. If and when the ORSA Model Act is adopted by an individual state, the state may impose additional internal review and regulatory filing requirements on licensed insurers and their parent companies.
Regulation of dividends and other payments from insurance subsidiaries
The ability of an insurer to pay dividends or make other distributions is subject to insurance regulatory limitations of the insurance company’s state of domicile. Generally, such laws limit the payment of dividends or other distributions above a specified level. Dividends or other distributions in excess of such thresholds are “extraordinary” and are subject to prior regulatory approval. Such dividends or distributions may be subject to applicable withholding or other taxes. See “Item 2. Financial Information-Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Financial condition, liquidity and capital resources-Liquidity and capital resources” and Note 20 - “Statutory information” of the notes accompanying our financial statements.
Insurance regulatory information system ratios
The NAIC Insurance Regulatory Information System, or the IRIS, was developed by a committee of state insurance regulators and is intended primarily to assist state insurance departments in executing their statutory mandates to oversee the financial condition of insurance companies operating in their respective states. IRIS identifies 13 property/casualty industry ratios (referred to as IRIS ratios) and specifies usual ranges and identifies unusual values for each ratio. Departure from the usual values of the IRIS ratios can lead to inquiries from individual state insurance commissioners as to certain aspects of an insurer’s business.
The NAIC has instituted its Financial Regulation Accreditation Standards Program, or FRASP, in response to federal initiatives to regulate the business of insurance. FRASP provides a set of standards designed to establish effective state regulation of the financial condition of insurance companies. Under FRASP, a state must adopt certain laws and regulations, institute required regulatory practices and procedures, and have adequate personnel to enforce such items in order to become an “accredited” state. If a state is not accredited, other states may not accept certain financial examination reports of insurers prepared solely by the regulatory agency in such unaccredited state. New Jersey, the state in which our insurance subsidiaries are domiciled, is an accredited state.
Risk-based capital requirements
In order to enhance the regulation of insurer solvency, the NAIC adopted in December 1993 a formula and model law to implement risk-based capital requirements for property and casualty insurance companies. These risk-based capital requirements are designed to assess capital adequacy and to raise the level of protection that statutory surplus provides for policyholder obligations. The risk-based capital model for property and casualty insurance companies measures three major areas of risk facing property and casualty insurers: underwriting, which encompasses the risk of adverse loss developments and inadequate pricing; declines in asset values arising from credit risk; and declines in asset values arising from investment risks.
An insurer will be subject to varying degrees of regulatory action depending on how its statutory surplus compares to its risk-based capital calculation. For equity investments in an insurance company affiliate, the risk-based capital requirements for the equity securities of such affiliate would generally be our U.S.-based subsidiaries’ proportionate share of the affiliate’s risk-based capital requirement.
Under the approved formula, an insurer’s total adjusted capital is compared to its authorized control level risk-based capital. If this ratio is above a minimum threshold, no company or
regulatory action is necessary. Below this threshold are four distinct action levels at which a regulator can intervene with increasing degrees of authority over an insurer as the ratio of surplus to risk-based capital requirement decreases. The four action levels include: insurer is required to submit a plan for corrective action; insurer is subject to examination, analysis and specific corrective action; regulators may place insurer under regulatory control; and regulators are required to place insurer under regulatory control.
Each of our U.S. subsidiaries’ surplus (as calculated for statutory purposes) is above the risk-based capital thresholds that would require either company or regulatory action.
Guaranty funds and assigned risk plans
Most states require all admitted insurance companies to participate in their respective guaranty funds which cover certain claims against insolvent insurers. Solvent insurers licensed in these states are required to cover the losses paid on behalf of insolvent insurers by the guaranty funds and are generally subject to annual assessments in the states by the guaranty funds to cover these losses. Participation in state-assigned risk plans may take the form of reinsuring a portion of a pool of policies or the direct issuance of policies to insureds. The calculation of an insurer’s participation in these plans is usually based on the amount of premium for that type of coverage that was written by the insurer on a voluntary basis. Assigned risk pools tend to produce losses which result in assessments to insurers writing the same lines on a voluntary basis.
Although state regulation is the dominant form of regulation for insurance and reinsurance business, the federal government in recent years has shown some concern over the adequacy of state regulation. It is not possible to predict the future impact of any potential federal regulations or other possible laws or regulations on our U.S.-based subsidiaries’ capital and operations, and such laws or regulations could materially adversely affect their business. In addition, a number of federal laws affect and apply to the insurance industry, including various privacy laws and the economic and trade sanctions implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC. OFAC maintains and enforces economic sanctions against certain foreign countries and groups and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in certain transactions with certain persons or entities. OFAC has imposed civil penalties on persons, including insurance and reinsurance companies, arising from violations of its economic sanctions program.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
The Dodd-Frank Act created the Federal Insurance Office, or FIO, within the Department of Treasury, which is not a federal regulator or supervisor of insurance, but monitors the insurance industry for systemic risk, administers the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015, or TRIPRA, consults with the states regarding insurance matters and develops federal policy on aspects of international insurance matters. In addition, FIO is authorized to assist the Treasury Secretary in negotiating “covered agreements” between the U.S. and one or more foreign governments or regulatory authorities that address insurance prudential measures. Where a state law is inconsistent with a “covered agreement” and provides less favorable treatment to foreign insurers than U.S. companies, the FIO Director may preempt conflicting state law. In 2013, the FIO issued two reports relating to the insurance industry, one on modernization of the insurance regulatory system and one on the impact of Part II of the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act of 2010. In December 2014, the FIO issued a report on the vital role that the global reinsurance market plays in supporting insurance in the United States. The impact that these reports will have on the regulation of insurance, if any, is yet to be determined. The Dodd-Frank Act also created a uniform system for non-admitted insurance premium tax payments based on the home state of the policyholder and provides for single state regulation for financial solvency and credit for reinsurance as discussed above.
The Dodd-Frank Act established the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, or the CFPB, to regulate the offering and provision of consumer financial products and services under federal law. Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB is charged with rulemaking and enforcement with respect to enumerated consumer laws. The Dodd-Frank Act also granted to the CFPB certain supervisory powers with respect to “covered persons” and “service providers,” as defined by the Act.
Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015
The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 was amended and extended again by TRIPRA through December 31, 2020. TRIPRA provides a federal backstop for insurance-related losses resulting from certain acts of terrorism on U.S. soil or against certain U.S. air carriers, vessels or foreign missions. Under TRIPRA, all U.S.-based property and casualty insurers are required to make terrorism insurance coverage available in specified commercial property and casualty insurance lines. Under TRIPRA, the federal government will pay 85% of covered losses after (i) aggregate industry insured losses resulting from the act of terrorism exceeds a statutorily prescribed program trigger, and (ii) an insurer’s losses exceed a deductible determined by a statutorily prescribed formula, up to a combined annual aggregate limit for the federal government and all insurers of $100 billion. The program trigger for calendar year 2015 is $100 million and will increase by $20 million per year until it becomes $200 million in 2020. Beginning January 1, 2016, the 85% federal share will decrease by 1% per year until it becomes 80% in 2020. If an act (or acts) of terrorism result in covered losses exceeding the $100 billion annual limit, insurers with losses exceeding their deductibles will not be responsible for additional losses. An insurer’s deductible for each year is based on the insurer’s (together with those of its affiliates) direct commercial earned premiums for property and casualty insurance, excluding certain lines of business such as commercial auto, surety, professional liability and earthquake lines of business, for the prior calendar year multiplied by a specified percentage. The specified percentage for 2015 through 2020 is 20%. Our U.S.-based property and casualty insurers, WIC and WSIC, are subject to TRIPRA.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, or the GLBA, which implements fundamental changes in the regulation of the financial services industry in the United States, was enacted on November 12, 1999. The GLBA permits mergers that combine commercial banks, insurers and securities firms under one holding company, a “financial holding company.” Bank holding companies and other entities that qualify and elect to be treated as financial holding companies may engage in activities, and acquire companies engaged in activities, that are “financial” in nature or “incidental” or “complementary” to such financial activities. Such financial activities include acting as principal, agent or broker in the underwriting and sale of life, property, casualty and other forms of insurance and annuities.
Until the passage of the GLBA, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 had limited the ability of banks to engage in securities-related businesses, and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 had restricted banks from being affiliated with insurers. Since passage of the GLBA, among other things, bank holding companies may acquire insurers, and insurance holding companies may acquire banks. The ability of banks to affiliate with insurers may affect our U.S. subsidiaries’ product lines by substantially increasing the number, size and financial strength of potential competitors.
The GLBA also imposes privacy requirements on financial institutions, such as insurance companies, including obligations to protect and safeguard consumers’ non-public personal information and records, and limitations on the re-use of such information. Federal regulatory agencies have issued Interagency Guidelines Establishing Information Security Standards, or “Security Guidelines,” and interagency regulations regarding financial privacy, or “Privacy Rule,” implementing sections of GLBA. The Security Guidelines establish standards relating to administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure the security, confidentiality, integrity, and the proper disposal of consumer information. The Privacy Rule limits a financial institution’s disclosure of non-public personal information to unaffiliated third parties unless certain notice requirements are met and the
consumer does not elect to prevent or “opt out” of the disclosure. The Privacy Rule also requires that privacy notices provided to customers and consumers describe the financial institutions’ policies and practices to protect the confidentiality and security of the information. Many states have enacted legislation implementing GLBA and establishing information security regulation. Many states have enacted privacy and data security laws which impose compliance obligations beyond GLBA, including obligations to protect social security numbers and provide notification in the event that a security breach results in a reasonable belief that unauthorized persons may have obtained access to consumer non-public information.
Legislative and regulatory proposals
From time to time, various regulatory and legislative changes have been, and will be, proposed in the insurance and reinsurance industry. Among the proposals that have been considered are the possible introduction of federal regulation in addition to, or in lieu of, the current system of state regulation of insurers and the NAIC. In addition, there are a variety of proposals being considered by various state legislatures. Two ongoing areas of work at the NAIC are model rules relating to corporate governance and consideration of enhanced methods of group supervision.
Gibraltar insurance regulation
The Gibraltar Financial Services Commission, or the GFSC, regulates insurance and reinsurance companies, firms carrying out insurance mediation activities and insurance managers operating in Gibraltar. Insurance and reinsurance companies operate principally under the Financial Services (Insurance Companies) Act 1987 and, since January 1, 2016, also under the Financial Services (Insurance Companies) (Solvency II Directive) Act 2015. Insurance intermediaries and insurance managers operate principally under the Financial Services (Investment & Fiduciary Services) Act 1989. In addition, insurance companies, intermediaries and managers are subject to a range of further laws and regulations.
On July 28, 2015, WICE was licensed by the GFSC. It holds permissions to write the following classes and is authorized to do business in the following territories:
United Kingdom: 3 (Land Vehicles), 10 (Motor Vehicle Liability);
France: 1 (Accident), 3 (Land Vehicles), 8 (Fire and Natural Forces), 9 (Damage to Property), 10 (Motor Vehicle Liability), 13 (General Liability); and
Ireland: 1 (Accident), 3 (Land Vehicles), 8 (Fire and Natural Forces), 9 (Damage to Property), 10 (Motor Vehicle Liability), 13 (General Liability).
The GFSC’s mission statement states that its mission is “to provide financial services regulation in an effective and efficient manner in order to promote good business, protect the public from financial loss and enhance Gibraltar’s reputation as a quality financial centre.” Underpinning this mission statement, the GFSC’s regulatory objectives are the promotion of market confidence, the reduction of systemic risk, the promotion of public awareness, the protection of the good reputation of Gibraltar, the protection of consumers and the reduction of financial crime.
The GFSC is responsible both for supervising the application of prudential standards and the conduct of firms across the Gibraltar financial services sector. This includes, but is not limited to banks, insurance companies, insurance intermediaries, e-money issuers, payment service institutions, investment firms, fund service providers, funds, fiduciary service providers and auditors.
Gibraltar financial service firms, including insurance and reinsurance companies, which passport their services into another EU member state are also subject to the conduct and general good provision in that member state, as set out by the host state regulator.
WICE is required to have adequate financial assets and to file quarterly returns to the GFSC. WICE adopts the Standard Formula as postulated under Solvency II to calculate its regulatory solvency capital requirement, or SCR. In addition to this, WICE is required to carry out its own risk and solvency assessment, or ORSA, at least annually, taking into account its specific risk profile and risk appetite to formulate an internal view of the appropriate level of capital.
The calculation of the SCR takes account of market risk, insurance risk (underwriting and reserving), counterparty risk and operational risk. The ORSA also takes account of other risks facing the business, such as liquidity risk and group risk.
The GFSC requires insurance and reinsurance companies to maintain an appropriate buffer above the SCR, but this is not prescriptive. The buffer is expected to be appropriate to the risk profile and type of business written.
WICE maintains a level of capital which is above both the SCR and the internally derived view of capital required.
Financial services compensation scheme
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme, or FSCS, is a scheme established under FSMA to compensate eligible policyholders of insurance and reinsurance companies who may become insolvent. The FSCS is funded by the levies that it has the power to impose on all insurers and reinsurers. As a motor insurer writing into the U.K. market, WICE contributes to the FSCS.
Motor insurance bureau
The Motor Insurance Bureau in the United Kingdom, or MIB, and the Motor Insurance Bureau Ireland, or MIBI, provide compensation where an individual is injured by an uninsured driver. As an insurance and reinsurance company writing motor business into the U.K. and Ireland, WICE is a member of both the MIB and the MIBI and pays the appropriate levies.
When granting a license, the GFSC issues a Notice of Requirements, or NOR, which imposes further restrictions on a licensee over and above those set out in legislation. The key restrictions applicable to WICE include the following:
Restriction on business to be written
WICE is required to obtain prior written approval of the GFSC if it plans to make any significant change to the business that it writes.
Restrictions on transactions with connected parties
WICE is required to obtain prior written consent from the GFSC if it enters into certain transactions with connected parties. This includes: (i) agreements which will result in payments in excess of $40,000; (ii) the acquisition of property in excess of $40,000; (iii) other property-related arrangements including, but not limited to, mortgages, charges and leases above $40,000; (iv) undertaking any liability to meet an obligation of a connected party; (v) loans to connected parties exceeding $40,000; and (vi) entering into or varying a reinsurance agreement with a connected party without giving the GFSC 14 days prior written notice.
Changes to WICE’s operations
WICE must inform the GFSC of any significant change in its insurance or reinsurance arrangements, a change in the name of its bankers or the address of the branch where the account is held, or a change in its auditors.
Provision of information
WICE must send to the GFSC, within 14 days, copies of insurance or reinsurance agreements, agreements for the provision of insurance management services or changes to agreements and new or revised agreements with investment managers.
Restriction on dividends
WICE is required to notify the GFSC of any proposal to declare or pay a dividend and is required to provide relevant financial information which has been considered by its board of directors in considering this proposal. WICE is not permitted to pay any such dividend within 14 days of such notice to the GFSC.
In order to obtain regulatory approval for the payment of a dividend, WICE must demonstrate that it will continue to meet its SCR and its internal view of capital following the payment of such dividend.
The NOR imposes a requirement on WICE to comply with certain other matters:
A business plan must be submitted prior to December 1 of each financial year;
WICE must obtain an annual independent actuarial review of loss reserves;
WICE must provide the GFSC with a copy of any management report provided by its auditors within two weeks of receipt;
WICE must submit to the GFSC copies of board of director and committee minutes and board of directors and committee packs on a quarterly basis once the meetings have been held; and
WICE must hold quarterly meetings of its board of directors.
European Union considerations
Through its authorization in Gibraltar, which is a British Overseas Territory of the U.K. and therefore able to benefit from certain rights available to Member States of the EU, WICE’s authorization is recognized throughout the European Economic Area, subject only to certain notification and application requirements. This authorization enables WICE to provide services or to establish a branch in any other Member State of the EU, where such entity will be subject to the insurance regulations of each such Member State with respect to the conduct of its business in such Member State, but remain subject only to the financial, prudential and operational supervision by the GFSC. The framework for the passporting of services and the establishment of branches in Member States of the EU was generally set forth, and remains subject to, directives adopted by the Council, the legislative body of the European Union, which directives are then implemented in each Member State. WICE currently passports under the Freedom of Services provisions into the United Kingdom, France and Ireland.
The recent U.K. referendum in favor of an exit from the European Union, commonly referred to as “Brexit,” may adversely impact our European operations by limiting or removing WICE’s current ability to flexibly transact insurance business across the borders of European Union members. Alternative avenues to distribute our insurance products in Europe exist but may prove to be more costly and/or less economical, and a reduction in premium writings from Europe would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Investing in our common shares involves risks. Prospective investors should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as other information contained in this registration statement before making an investment decision. The risks described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect us in the future. Any of the following risks could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. In such case, the trading price of our common shares may decline and investors may lose all or part of their original investments.
Risks related to our insurance and reinsurance business
We operate in a highly competitive environment and we may not be able to compete successfully in our industry.
The insurance and reinsurance industry is highly competitive. We compete with major U.S. and non-U.S. insurers and reinsurers, many of which have greater financial, marketing and management resources than we do, as well as other potential providers of capital willing to assume insurance and/or reinsurance risk. In our underwriting business, we compete with insurers that provide specialty P&C lines of insurance and reinsurance, including, among others: Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited, AXIS Capital Holdings Limited, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., Chubb Limited, Everest Re Group Ltd., Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd., Hannover Rückversicherung AG, Lloyd’s, Markel Corporation, Munich Re Group, PartnerRe Ltd., RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd., Third Point Reinsurance Ltd., Transatlantic Reinsurance Company and AXA XL Ltd. Additionally, other companies may enter the sectors of the markets in which we operate. We do not believe that we have a significant market share in any of our markets.
Financial institutions and other capital markets participants also offer alternative products and services similar to our own or alternative products that compete with insurance and reinsurance products, such as insurance/risk-linked securities, catastrophe bonds and derivatives. In recent years, capital market participants have been increasingly active in the reinsurance market and markets for related risks and are beginning to make forays into the insurance market.
Competition may have adverse consequences for us, including fewer contracts written, lower premium rates, increased expenses for customer acquisition and retention and less favorable policy terms and conditions. Our competitive position is based on many factors, including our perceived overall financial strength, ratings assigned by an independent rating agency, geographic scope of business, client and broker relationships, premiums charged, contract terms and conditions, products and services offered (including the ability to design customized programs) and appropriate and timely claim payments, as well as the reputation, experience and qualifications of the managers of our underwriting business and our employees. We may not be successful in competing with others on any of these bases and the intensity of competition in our industry may erode profitability and result in less favorable policy terms and conditions for insurance and reinsurance companies generally, including us.
We also compete with new companies that continue to be formed to enter the insurance and reinsurance markets. In addition, continued consolidation within the industry may further enhance the already competitive underwriting environment. Any such consolidated entities may use their enhanced market power and broader capital base to negotiate price reductions for products and services that we offer or that compete with ours and we may experience rate declines and possibly write less business. We could incur greater expenses relating to customer acquisition and retention, reducing our operating margins. In addition, insurance companies that merge may be able to spread their risks across a larger capital base so that they require less reinsurance. Insurance and reinsurance intermediaries could also consolidate, potentially adversely impacting our ability to
access business and distribute our products. We could also experience more robust competition from larger, better capitalized competitors, which could include ACGL or current or future affiliates of ACGL. Arch competes with us and will continue to underwrite business for its own distinct portfolios in accordance with its own policies, strategies and business plans. Our business may be adversely impacted by the entry of other companies into the lines of business in which we operate.
The insurance and reinsurance industry is highly cyclical and we expect to continue to experience periods characterized by excess underwriting capacity and unfavorable premium rates.
Historically, insurers and reinsurers have experienced significant fluctuations in operating results due to competition, frequency of occurrence or severity of catastrophic events, levels of capacity, general economic conditions, changes in equity, debt and other investment markets, changes in legislation, case law and prevailing concepts of liability and other factors. In particular, demand for reinsurance is influenced significantly by the underwriting results of primary insurers and prevailing general economic conditions. The industry-wide availability of insurance and reinsurance products is related to prevailing prices and levels of surplus capacity (supply) that, in turn, may fluctuate in response to changes in rates of return being realized in the industry on both the underwriting and investment sides of the business. As a result, the insurance and reinsurance business historically has been a cyclical industry characterized by periods of intense price competition due to excessive underwriting capacity, as well as periods when shortages of capacity permitted favorable premium levels and changes in terms and conditions. The supply of insurance and reinsurance capacity has increased over the past several years and may increase further, either as a result of capital provided by new entrants or by the commitment of additional capital by existing insurers or reinsurers.
We may enter lines of business that may prove to be less favorable or profitable than anticipated due to economic or other factors beyond our control.
In seeking attractive underwriting opportunities, we may enter lines of business that we model as being profitable and accretive to our underwriting portfolio but that ultimately may prove to be less favorable or profitable than anticipated due to economic or other factors beyond our control. For example, we have increased our mortgage reinsurance and European motor insurance business based on the current profitable nature of those businesses. However, if those lines of business cease to be profitable in the future, it could adversely affect our business. Furthermore, the results of certain lines of business we write may be more susceptible than others to macroeconomic conditions. For instance, mortgage insurance and reinsurance losses result when a borrower becomes unable to continue to make mortgage payments and the home of such borrower cannot be sold for an amount that covers unpaid principal and interest and the expenses of the sale. Deteriorating economic conditions increase the likelihood that borrowers will have insufficient income to pay their mortgages and can adversely affect housing values leading to losses on mortgage insurance and reinsurance contracts.
The insurance and reinsurance industry is from time to time subject to regulatory, legislative, judicial or other unforeseen developments, which could adversely affect our business.
From time to time, various regulatory and legislative changes have been proposed in the insurance and reinsurance industry. Among the proposals that are presently being considered is the possible introduction of global regulatory standards for the amount of capital that insurance groups must maintain across the group.
The recent turmoil in the financial markets has increased the likelihood of changes in the way the financial services industry is regulated. Governmental authorities in the United States and worldwide have become increasingly interested in potential risks posed by the insurance industry as a whole and to commercial and financial systems in general. While we cannot predict the exact nature, timing or scope of possible governmental initiatives, there may be increased regulatory intervention in our industry in the future. For example, the U.S. federal government has increased its scrutiny of the insurance regulatory framework in recent years and some state legislators have
considered or enacted laws that will alter and likely increase state regulation of insurance and reinsurance companies and holding companies.
In July 2010, the U.S. government passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, which, among other things, created the Federal Insurance Office to be located within the U.S. Department of the Treasury, with the authority to monitor nearly all aspects of the insurance industry, and changed the regulatory framework for non-admitted insurance and reinsurance. It is difficult to predict the ultimate impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and whether it or any future modifications to the Dodd-Frank Act will positively or negatively affect our business plans. Similarly, government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, are operating under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. In 2015, GSEs expanded their mortgage credit risk transfer programs; such transactions led to increased opportunities for multiline property and casualty reinsurers, such as us, as well as capital markets participants. The U.S. Congress is examining the role of GSEs in the U.S. housing market and may implement structural and other changes to GSEs. Changes in the roles of GSEs or their practices could have a material adverse effect on our mortgage reinsurance premium volumes. We may also be adversely affected as a result of new or revised legislation, or regulations imposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or the CFTC, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, other U.S. or non-U.S. governmental regulatory authorities or self-regulatory organizations that supervise the financial markets. Additionally, there is a possibility that, in the future, we may be subject to new or revised legislation or regulations that may be enforced by entirely new governmental agencies. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or the NAIC, which is an association of the insurance commissioners of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, regularly reexamines existing laws and regulations. There are also a variety of proposals being considered by various state legislatures.
The insurance industry is also affected by political, judicial and legal developments that result in new or expanded theories of liability. These or other changes could impose new financial obligations on us by extending coverage beyond our underwriting intent or otherwise require us to make unplanned modifications to the products and services that we provide, or cause the delay or cancellation of products and services that we provide. In some instances, these changes may not become apparent until sometime after we have issued insurance or reinsurance contracts that are affected by the changes. As a result, the full extent of liability under our insurance or reinsurance contracts may not be known for many years after a contract is issued.
Our products and services are ultimately distributed to individual and business customers. From time to time, consumer advocacy groups or the media may focus attention on insurance and reinsurance products and services, thereby subjecting the industry to periodic negative publicity. We also may be negatively impacted if competitors in one or more of our markets engage in practices resulting in increased public attention to our business. These factors may further increase our costs of doing business and adversely affect our profitability by impeding our ability to market our products and services, requiring us to change our products or services or by increasing the regulatory burdens under which we operate.
While Watford Re, our main operating subsidiary, is licensed as a Class 4 insurer in Bermuda and is authorized to do business in Bermuda, changes in the laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which our customers are domiciled may have an impact on our business. For example, European Union legislation known as “Solvency II,” which now governs the prudential regulation of insurers and reinsurers in the European Union, was implemented on January 1, 2016. Solvency II requires insurers and reinsurers in the European Union to meet risk-based solvency requirements. It also imposes group solvency and governance requirements on groups with insurers or reinsurers operating in the European Economic Area. WICE is currently subject to Solvency II. Further, Solvency II equivalent legislation has been introduced in Bermuda. The cost of compliance with existing laws and regulations is expensive and should we become subject to additional rules and regulations, including Solvency II amendments, there can be no assurance that we will be able to comply fully
with, or obtain desired exemptions from, such laws and regulations that govern the conduct of our business. Failure to comply with, or to obtain desired authorizations and/or exemptions under, any applicable laws could result in restrictions on our ability to do business or to undertake activities that are regulated in one or more of the jurisdictions in which we operate and could subject us to fines and other sanctions.
When evaluating an insurer’s financial strength and determining minimum capital requirements, rating agencies and applicable regulators typically assign capital charges to different classes of investment assets based on the perceived level of risk and volatility. Non-investment grade assets carry higher capital charges than those assigned to investment grade assets, and therefore we may be required to hold more capital than similarly-sized traditional insurers and reinsurers, and it is possible that, for certain atypical, non-investment grade assets, we might receive minimal or no regulatory capital credit. While our strategy involves a greater degree of investment risk, it is balanced with a less volatile underwriting portfolio, especially in relation to the amount of catastrophe exposure we assume.
Underwriting risks and reserving for losses are based on probabilities and related modeling, which are subject to inherent volatility in financial markets and other uncertainties.
Our success is dependent upon our ability to accurately assess the risks associated with the businesses that we insure and reinsure. In making underwriting decisions and establishing reserves for loss and loss adjustment expenses, we make estimates that involve actuarial and statistical projections of the ultimate settlement value and administration costs of losses. We began operations in March 2014 and thus we have a limited operating history and loss experience from which to directly extrapolate reserves. We utilize actuarial models, as well as available historical insurance industry loss experience and loss development patterns, to assist in the establishment of our estimates. Most or all of the factors utilized in determining these estimates are not directly quantifiable, particularly on a prospective basis, and the effects of these and unforeseen factors could negatively impact our ability to accurately assess the risks of the policies that we write. Changes in the assumptions inherent within these models or used by management could lead to a future increase in our estimate of ultimate losses on business we have written.
As of September 30, 2018, our consolidated reserves for unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses, net of unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses recoverable, were $895.4 million. Such reserves were established in accordance with applicable insurance laws and U.S. GAAP. However, as described in more detail above, loss reserves are inherently subject to uncertainty and any estimates and assumptions made as part of the reserving process could prove to be inaccurate.
In addition, there may be significant reporting lags between the occurrence of the insured event and the time it is actually reported to the insurer and additional lags between the time of reporting and final settlement of claims. Unfavorable developments in any of these factors, when recognized, could cause the then-current level of reserves to be inadequate.
In addition, the estimation of loss reserves is also more difficult during times of adverse economic and market conditions due to unexpected changes in behavior of claimants and policyholders, including an increase in fraudulent reporting of exposures or losses, reduced maintenance of insured properties or increased frequency of small claims. Potential changes in the level of inflation also result in an increased level of uncertainty in our estimation of loss reserves. As a result, actual losses and loss adjustment expenses paid will likely deviate, perhaps substantially, from the reserve estimates reflected in our financial statements.
Adverse conditions in the financial markets, such as disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the capital and credit markets, may adversely affect the liquidity of our investment portfolio and, moreover, may result in realized and unrealized investment losses that could have a material adverse effect on our loss reserves, financial position and business. Furthermore, a default by one of several large institutions that are dependent on one another to meet their liquidity or operational
needs, so that a default by one institution causes a series of defaults by other institutions (sometimes referred to as a “systemic risk”), may expose us to insurance or investment exposures that could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. Potential changes in the level of inflation also result in an increased level of uncertainty in our estimation of loss reserves. As a result, actual losses and loss adjustment expenses paid will likely deviate, perhaps substantially, from the reserve estimates reflected in our financial statements. Our policyholders, cedants, reinsurers and retrocessionaires may also be affected by such adverse conditions, which could adversely affect their ability to meet their obligations to us.
If our loss reserves prove to be inadequate, we will be required to increase loss reserves at the time of such determination with a corresponding reduction in our net income in the period in which the deficiency becomes known. It is possible that claims in respect of events that have occurred could exceed our claim reserves and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, in a particular period, or on our financial condition in general. Adverse economic conditions could also have a material impact on the frequency and severity of claims and therefore could negatively impact our underwriting returns. As a compounding factor, although most insurance contracts have policy limits, the nature of P&C insurance and reinsurance is such that losses we are required to pay can exceed policy limits for a variety of reasons, thereby adversely affecting our financial condition.
For further discussion of our reserve experience, please see “Item 2. Financial Information-Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Critical accounting policies, estimates and recent accounting pronouncements” and “Item 2. Financial Information-Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Reserves for losses and loss adjustment expenses.”
The availability of reinsurance and retrocessional coverage may be limited and counterparty credit and other risks associated with our reinsurance arrangements may result in losses which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
For the purposes of managing risk, we use reinsurance and also may use retrocessional arrangements. In the normal course of business, our insurance subsidiaries cede a portion of their premiums through pro rata, excess of loss or facultative reinsurance agreements. Watford Re purchases a limited amount of retrocessional coverage as part of its aggregate risk management program and cedes certain business to Arch. The availability and cost of reinsurance and retrocessional protection is subject to market conditions, which are beyond our control. As a result of such market conditions and other factors, we may not be able to successfully mitigate risk through reinsurance and retrocessional arrangements.
Further, we are subject to credit risk with respect to our reinsurance and retrocessions because the ceding of risk to reinsurers and retrocessionaires does not relieve us of our liability to the clients or companies we insure or reinsure. We monitor the financial condition of our reinsurers and attempt to place coverages only with carriers we view as substantial and financially sound. An inability of our reinsurers or retrocessionaires to meet their obligations to us could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Our losses for a given event or occurrence may increase if our reinsurers or retrocessionaires dispute or fail to meet their obligations to us or the reinsurance or retrocessional protections purchased by us are exhausted or are otherwise unavailable for any reason. Our failure to establish adequate reinsurance or retrocessional arrangements or the failure of our existing reinsurance or retrocessional arrangements to protect us from overly concentrated risk exposure could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
In our normal business operations we assume a degree of credit risk from insurance and reinsurance intermediaries and service providers, which exposes us to potential liability.
In accordance with industry practice, we frequently pay amounts owed on claims under our insurance and reinsurance contracts to brokers, third-party claims administrators, program
administrators, coinsurers, managing general agents and other similar producers, administrators and intermediaries. We entrust these entities to remit those amounts to our cedants, policyholders, third-party claimants or other service providers pursuant to our directions. In some jurisdictions, if certain of these producers, administrators or intermediaries fail to make such payment, we may remain liable for the deficiency, notwithstanding the obligation of the producer, administrator or intermediary to make such payment. Likewise, in certain jurisdictions, when the insured or ceding company pays the premiums for these contracts to certain of these producers, administrators or intermediaries for payment to us, these premiums are considered to have been paid and the insured or ceding company will no longer be liable to us for those amounts, whether or not we have actually received the premiums from the producer, administrator or intermediary.
The risk associated with underwriting on a delegated authority basis, such as through reinsurance of risks underwritten by primary insurers and through delegation of underwriting authority to program administrators, can adversely affect our business.
Like other reinsurers insuring risks underwritten by primary insurers and insurers writing business with program administrators, managing general agents, coinsurers and other similar relationships, we do not separately evaluate each of the individual risks assumed by us. Therefore, we are largely dependent on the original underwriting decisions made by our ceding companies, program administrators, managing general agents and coinsurers in accordance with agreed underwriting guidelines. We are subject to the risk that the ceding companies or these other producers may not have adequately evaluated the risks to be insured or reinsured and that the premiums may not adequately compensate us for the risks we assume. We do not separately evaluate or handle each of the individual claims that may be made on the underlying insurance contracts. Therefore, we are dependent on the original claims decisions and claims-handling made by our clients and other producers. To the extent that a client or other producer fails to evaluate adequately the insured exposures or to appropriately handle the individual claims made thereunder, our financial condition and results of operations could be significantly and negatively affected.
Risks related to our company
We began operations in March 2014 and, therefore, only limited historical information is available for investors to evaluate our performance or a potential investment in our shares.
There is little historical information available to help prospective investors evaluate our performance or an investment in our shares. In general, insurance and reinsurance companies in their early stages of development present substantial business and financial risks and may incur meaningful operating losses. In general, these companies must successfully develop business relationships, establish operating and risk management procedures, hire staff, install management information systems and processes and complete other tasks appropriate for the conduct of their intended business activities. In particular, our ability to implement our underwriting strategy depends on, among other things, our ability to:
retain our relationships with Arch and HPS;
attract and retain personnel with underwriting, actuarial and credit analysis expertise;
maintain commercially acceptable claims-paying ability ratings;
evaluate effectively the risks that we assume under the policies and contracts that we write; and
execute our business plan in a timely manner, the failure of which may result in an adverse tax characterization of our company.
The failure or difficulty with any of the foregoing could adversely affect our ability to implement our underwriting strategy and, therefore, our business and results of operations.
The preparation of our financial statements requires us to make many estimates and judgments, which, if inaccurate, could cause volatility in our results of operations.
Our consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The preparation of consolidated financial statements requires us to make many estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities (including reserves), revenues, expenses, and related disclosures of contingent liabilities. On an ongoing basis, we periodically evaluate our estimates, including those related to revenue recognition, insurance, reinsurance and other reserves, reinsurance recoverables, investment valuations, intangible assets, bad debts, income taxes, contingencies and litigation. We base our estimates on our historical experience, where possible, on historical industry data and on various other assumptions, which form the basis for our judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Estimates and judgments for a relatively new company, like us, are more difficult to make than those made in a mature company since relatively limited historical information on our portfolio is available.
Loss and loss adjustment expense reserves are estimates at a given time of the losses that an insurer or reinsurer ultimately expects to pay in respect of claims, based on facts and circumstances then known, predictions of future events, estimates of future trends in claim severity and other variable factors such as inflation. We believe that the process to estimate loss and loss adjustment expenses is subjective and complex. Our estimations of reserves, as a recently formed company, may be inherently less reliable than the reserve estimations of a company with an established loss history. Due to our relatively short operating history, our loss experience is limited and reliable evidence of changes in trends of numbers of claims incurred, average settlement amounts, numbers of claims outstanding and average losses per claim may take years to develop. In addition, the possibility of future litigation or legislative change that may affect interpretation of policy terms further increases the degree of uncertainty in the reserving process. The uncertainties inherent in the reserving process, together with the potential for unforeseen developments, including changes in laws and the prevailing interpretation of policy terms, may result in losses and loss expenses materially different from the reserves initially established. Changes to prior year reserves will affect current underwriting results by increasing net income if the prior year reserves prove to be redundant or by decreasing net income if the prior year reserves prove to be insufficient. Actual claims and claims-related expenses paid may, and likely will, deviate, perhaps substantially, from the reserve estimates reflected in our financial statements.
We also expect volatility in results in periods in which significant loss events occur because U.S. GAAP does not permit insurers or reinsurers to reserve for loss events until they have occurred and are expected to give rise to a claim. As a result, we are not allowed to record contingency reserves to account for expected future losses. We anticipate that claims arising from future events may require the establishment of substantial reserves from time to time.
The failure of any of the loss limitation methods we employ could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
In our underwriting operations, we seek to limit our loss exposure through various mechanisms. For example, we write a number of contracts on an excess of loss basis, adhere to maximum limitations on business written in defined geographic zones, generally limit program size for each client/program manager and selectively purchase reinsurance. In addition, in the case of reinsurance treaties, we may seek per occurrence limitations or loss ratio caps to limit the impact of losses from any one event or series of events.
We cannot be certain that any of these loss limitation methods will be effective. For instance, geographic zone limitations involve significant underwriting judgments, including the determination of the area of the zones and the inclusion of a particular policy within a particular zone’s limits. In spite of our loss limitation efforts, one or more catastrophic or other events could result in claims that substantially exceed our expectations. There also can be no assurance that
various provisions of our policies, such as limitations or exclusions from coverage or choice of forum, will be enforceable in the manner we intend. For example, it is possible that a court, arbitrator or regulatory authority could nullify or void an exclusion or limitation, or legislation could be enacted modifying or barring the use of these exclusions and limitations. Disputes relating to coverage and choice of legal forum may also arise. It is possible that any loss limitation protections set forth in our policies could be ineffective or voided, which, in either case, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or our results of operations.
We depend heavily on the performance of Arch, HPS and other third-party service providers under their respective agreements. In particular, we rely on Arch for services critical to our underwriting operations and we depend upon HPS to manage the investments of the funds in our non-investment grade portfolio.
We rely on Arch (including AIM), HPS and other third-party service providers for significant functions required to operate our business and execute our business plan. See “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with Arch,” “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with HPS,” “-Risks related to Arch” and “-Risks related to HPS and the HPS-managed non-investment grade portfolio.” The failure of one or more third-party service providers to perform or, moreover, the negligence, error, action or omission of any third-party service providers in performing their respective obligations, could cause us to suffer, among other things, financial loss, disruption of business, liability to third parties, regulatory intervention and reputational damage, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business is dependent upon insurance and reinsurance brokers, intermediaries and program administrators and the loss of these important relationships could materially adversely affect our ability to market our products and services.
We market our policies and contracts primarily through a limited number of brokers, intermediaries and program administrators. Some of our competitors may be more attractive to our sources of business by virtue of having higher financial strength ratings, offering a larger variety of products, setting lower prices for insurance coverage, offering higher commissions and/or having had longer-term relationships with the brokers and program administrators than we have. This may adversely impact our ability to attract and retain brokers or program administrators to market our products. The failure or inability of brokers or program administrators to market our products successfully, or loss of all or a substantial portion of the business provided by these brokers and program administrators, could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We could be materially adversely affected to the extent that third parties to whom we delegate authority for underwriting, claims-handling or other services exceed their authorities, commit fraud or otherwise breach obligations owed to us.
We authorize program administrators, managing general agents, coinsurers and other similar agents and service providers to write business on our behalf within underwriting authorities prescribed by us. See “-Risks related to Arch” and “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with Arch.” We rely on the underwriting controls of these producers to write business within the underwriting authorities provided by us. Although we monitor such business on an ongoing basis, our monitoring efforts may not be adequate or our service providers or agents may exceed their underwriting authorities or otherwise breach obligations owed to us. In addition, our service providers, agents, insureds or other third parties may commit fraud or otherwise breach their obligations to us. To the extent that our service providers, agents, our insureds or other third parties exceed their underwriting authorities, commit fraud or otherwise breach obligations owed to us in the future, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We are exposed to credit risk related to our cedants and policyholders in certain of our underwriting operations.
In addition to exposure to credit risk related to our non-investment grade portfolio, reinsurance recoverables and reliance on brokers and other agents (each discussed elsewhere in this section), we are exposed to credit risk in other areas of our business related to our policyholders. In certain circumstances, we are exposed to credit risk if we write policies that have deductibles or that require our policyholder to reimburse us for any claims payments. Under these policies, we are typically obligated to pay the claimant the full amount of the claim and the policyholder is contractually obligated to reimburse us for the deductible or claim amount, which can be a set amount per claim and/or an aggregate amount for all covered claims. As such, we are exposed to credit risk from the policyholder. Additionally, we may write retrospectively rated policies (i.e., policies in which premiums are adjusted after the policy period based on the actual loss experience of the policyholder during the policy period) or policies in which the premium is subject to adjustments after the exposure period to reflect the actual exposures written. In any such instance, we are exposed to policyholder or cedant credit risk to the extent the adjusted premium is greater than the original premium. The inability or failure of our policyholders to meet their obligations to us could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
We may not be able to write as much premium as expected on business with the desired level of targeted profitability.
Factors that may inhibit or preclude us from accessing desirable business sufficient to meet our targeted premium or profitability levels include, among others:
general soft conditions in the insurance and reinsurance markets that depress premium rates and/or broaden coverage terms, which reduce expected returns;
difficulty penetrating reinsurance clients’ program structures due to established relationships between such clients (or their intermediaries) and reinsurers previously on the programs;
difficulty in signing program administrators to handle our insurance products due to established relationships between those program administrators and their incumbent insurers;
difficulty in selling our insurance products to prospective policyholders through our selected program administrators due to existing relationships between such policyholders and their current insurers;
possible unwillingness of prospective clients (or their intermediaries) to accept our products based on competitors’ higher ratings, our limited experience and performance history or concerns about our investment strategy; and
competition for business opportunities, including with ACGL. Arch is not contractually obligated to allocate any particular new business opportunity to us, even if it would meet our underwriting criteria. See “-Risks related to Arch.”
As a result of the foregoing, we may write a lesser volume of business and/or write business at lower than our targeted level of profitability. This could negatively affect our business and results of operations. If there is insufficient demand for the insurance or reinsurance products that we intend to write, we may amend our business strategy to focus on other types of insurance or reinsurance products, for which we may need to obtain additional licenses or regulatory approvals. There can be no assurances that we will be successful in achieving targeted premium volumes or profitability even if we amend our business strategy.
The inability to attract and retain key employees, as well as the effects of Bermuda employment restrictions, could negatively impact our business strategy and our business.
Our success has been, and will continue to be, dependent on our ability to retain the services of our existing key employees and to attract and retain additional qualified personnel in the future. The pool of talent from which we actively recruit is limited. In addition, under Bermuda law, only persons who are Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians, holders of a permanent resident’s certificate, holders of a working resident’s certificate or persons who are exempt pursuant to the Incentives for Job Makers Act 2011, as amended, or the IJM Act (“exempted persons”), may engage in gainful occupation in Bermuda without a work permit issued by the Bermuda Government. Except for our Chief Executive Officer and other “chief” officer positions (where the advertising requirement is automatically waived) or where specifically waived, a work permit will only be granted or renewed upon showing that, after proper public advertisement, no Bermudian (or spouse of a Bermudian or a holder of a permanent resident’s certificate or holder of a working resident’s certificate) is available who meets the minimum standards reasonably required by the employer. A work permit is issued with an expiry date, and no assurances can be given that any work permit will be issued or, if issued, renewed upon the expiration of the relevant term.
Based on current governmental policy, it is unlikely that initial or extension applications in respect of persons holding “chief” officer positions will be denied. We have been designated by the Bermuda Government under the IJM Act as a company whose senior executives can be exempt from work permit control. This designation will remain in force provided we continue to meet the criteria for such designation under the IJM Act. All of our key officers in Bermuda are exempted persons. If, however, work permits are not obtained, or are not renewed, for our principal Bermuda-based employees and we are unable to recruit an adequate replacement or replace any such key employee within a reasonable period of time, our business may be significantly and negatively affected.
Although, to date, we have not experienced difficulties in attracting and retaining key personnel, the inability to attract and retain qualified personnel could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Our future success depends to a significant extent upon the continued services of key employees in Bermuda and our ability to attract and retain key employees to implement our long-term business strategy. The loss of the services of our key executive officers or any inability to hire and retain talented personnel could delay or prevent us from fully implementing our business strategy and would significantly and negatively affect our business. We do not currently plan to maintain key man life insurance with respect to any of our management. If any member of senior management or other key employee dies or becomes incapacitated or leaves our company, we would bear the cost of locating a replacement for that individual.
A downgrade or withdrawal of our financial strength ratings by insurance rating agencies could adversely affect the volume and quality of business presented to us and could negatively impact our relationships with clients and the sales of our products.
Companies, insurers and reinsurance brokers use ratings from independent ratings agencies as an important means of assessing the financial strength and quality of insurers and reinsurers. A.M. Best has assigned us a financial strength rating of “A-” (Excellent), which is the fourth highest of 15 ratings that A.M. Best issues. Each of our operating subsidiaries also carries a financial strength rating of “A” with a stable outlook from KBRA, which is the sixth highest of 22 ratings that KBRA confers. These ratings reflect the respective rating agency’s opinion of our financial strength, operating performance and ability to meet obligations. It is not an evaluation directed toward the protection of investors or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold our shares. Each of A.M. Best and KBRA periodically reviews our applicable rating, and may revise it downward or revoke it at its sole discretion based primarily on its analysis of our balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile. Factors which may affect such an analysis include:
if we change our business practice from our business plan;
if our relationship with Arch changes, including any possible ratings effect if ACGL determines to no longer consolidate our results into its financial statements;
if our relationship with HPS changes;
if unfavorable financial or market trends impact us;
if our actual losses exceed our loss reserves;
if we are unable to obtain and retain key personnel;
if our investments incur significant losses;
if our financial results fail to meet, as applicable, A.M. Best’s or KBRA’s minimum expectations for our current rating; and/or
if either A.M. Best or KBRA alters its respective assessment methodologies in a manner that would adversely affect our rating.
In light of the difficulties experienced recently by many financial institutions, including our competitors in the insurance industry, we believe it is also possible that rating agencies may heighten the level of scrutiny they apply when analyzing companies in our industry, may increase the frequency and scope of their reviews, may request additional information from the companies that they rate and may adjust upward the capital and other requirements employed in their models and rating methodology for maintenance of certain rating levels.
These ratings are often a key factor in the decision by an insured or a broker/intermediary regarding whether to place business with a particular insurance or reinsurance provider. A ratings downgrade or the potential for such a downgrade, or failure to obtain a necessary rating, could adversely affect our relationships with agents, brokers, wholesalers, intermediaries, clients and other distributors of our existing products and services, as well as new sales of our products and services. In addition, under certain of the reinsurance agreements we write, upon the occurrence of a ratings downgrade or other specified triggering event, such as a reduction in surplus by specified amounts during specified periods, our ceding company clients may become entitled to certain rights, including, among other things, the right to terminate the subject reinsurance agreement and/or to require that our reinsurance company post additional collateral, which may adversely affect our liquidity position and our profitability. Any ratings downgrade or failure to obtain a necessary rating could adversely affect our ability to compete in our markets, could cause our premiums and earnings to decrease and could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, a downgrade in our rating would, in certain cases, constitute an event of default under our letter of credit facility.
If we are unsuccessful in managing our underwriting operations and investments in relation to each other, our ability to conduct our business could be significantly and negatively affected.
Our ability to forecast and manage the respective risks in our underwriting operations and our investments are crucial to our success. We may be unable to access underwriting business and investments that complement each other in the manner assumed by our pricing models. Our underwriting operations require us to forecast payments, liabilities and collateral requirements, and our investment operations require forecasting interest income, required collateral for investment leverage, and principal gains and losses.
In particular, as a recently formed company, we have a limited operating history. As a result, limited company historical information exists related to our experience in forecasting the timing of claims payments and maintaining adequate reserves to meet anticipated liabilities under our insurance and reinsurance policies.
If our modeling and expectations with respect to our underwriting or investments are incorrect, or if we are unable to adjust our exposure to the risks associated with either, we could be forced to attempt to liquidate some of our investments at an inopportune time in the markets, or to forego certain investments or certain opportunities to effect changes to our overall strategy in our underwriting operations that we otherwise may have been able to pursue.
A single or series of insurable events could result in simultaneous, correlated and substantial losses from underwriting operations and investment losses, which would adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our underlying business model is predicated upon the belief that risks associated with our underwriting operations and the investments of the investment portfolios are generally uncorrelated. However, a single or series of insurable events potentially could create simultaneous, correlated and substantial losses from underwriting operations due to claims associated with such event(s), as well as investment losses resulting in part from disruptions to capital markets, the combination of which would adversely affect our business and results of operations. Neither the investment management agreements nor the investment guidelines prohibit our Investment Managers from investing in assets with a risk profile that might prove correlated to our underwriting operations.
Claims for natural catastrophic events or unanticipated losses from war, terrorism and political instability could cause large losses and substantial volatility in our results of operations and could have a material adverse effect on our financial position and results of operations.
Catastrophes directly impact our property business and can be caused by various events, including hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, windstorms, earthquakes, hailstorms, tornados, explosions, severe winter weather, fires, droughts and other natural disasters. Catastrophes can also cause losses in non-property business such as workers’ compensation or general liability. We seek to limit our modeled PML for property catastrophe exposures for each peak peril and peak zone from a 1-in-250 year occurrence to no more than 10% of our total capital. Depending on business opportunities and the mix of business that may comprise our underwriting portfolio, we may seek to adjust our self-imposed limitations on probable maximum loss for catastrophe-exposed property business. There can be no assurance that we will not suffer losses greater than 10% of our total capital from one or more catastrophic events in any one given geographic zone due to several factors, including the inherent uncertainties in estimating the frequency and severity of such events, potential inaccuracies and inadequacies in the data provided by clients and brokers, the limitations and inaccuracies of modeling techniques and the limitations of historical data used to estimate future losses, or as a result of a decision to change the percentage of shareholders’ equity exposed to a single modeled catastrophic event.
Our estimated PML is determined through the use of modeling techniques but we have aggregate exposures to natural catastrophic events that are in excess of the 1-in-250 year probability interval modeled occurrence loss amount to which we manage our catastrophe risk and our estimate does not represent our total potential loss for such exposures. Catastrophe modeling is an inexact discipline despite its use of a mix of historical data, scientific theory and mathematical methods. There is considerable uncertainty in the data and parameter inputs for insurance industry catastrophe models. In that regard, there is no universal standard in the preparation of insured data for use in the models and the running of modeling software. The accuracy of the models depends heavily on the availability of detailed insured loss data from actual recent large catastrophes.
Due to the limited number of such events historically, as well as other uncertainties such as the impact of climate change, there is significant potential for substantial differences between the modeled loss estimate and actual company experience for a single large catastrophic event. Over the past several years, changing weather patterns and climatic conditions, such as global warming, have added to the unpredictability and frequency of natural disasters in certain parts of the world and created additional uncertainty as to future trends and exposures. Although the loss experience
of catastrophe insurers and reinsurers has historically been characterized as low frequency, there is a growing consensus today that climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events and, in recent years, the frequency of major catastrophes appears to have increased. Furthermore, the potential difference between our modeled loss estimate and actual company experience could be even greater for perils with less modeled annual frequency, such as a U.S. earthquake, or less modeled annual severity, such as a European windstorm. We also rely upon third-party estimates of industry insured exposures and there is significant variation possible around the relationship between our loss and that of the industry following a catastrophic event.
In addition to the natural property catastrophe exposures described above, we believe that economic and geographic trends affecting insured property, including inflation, property value appreciation and geographic concentration, tend to generally increase the size of losses from catastrophic events over time. Actual losses from future catastrophic events may vary materially from our modeled estimates due to the inherent uncertainties in making such determinations resulting from several factors, including the potential inaccuracies and inadequacies in the data provided by clients, brokers and ceding companies, the modeling techniques and the application of such techniques, the contingent nature of business interruption exposures, the effects of any resultant demand surge on claims activity and attendant coverage issues.
While we seek to limit our modeled net PML for natural property catastrophe exposures, we do have exposure under various lines of business to unexpected, large losses resulting from future man-made catastrophic events, such as acts of war, acts of terrorism and political instability. These risks are inherently unpredictable. It is difficult to predict the timing of such events with statistical certainty or to estimate the amount of loss any given occurrence will generate. In certain instances, we specifically insure and reinsure risks resulting from acts of terrorism. Even in cases where we attempt to exclude losses from terrorism and certain other similar risks from some coverages written by us, we may not be successful in doing so. Moreover, irrespective of the clarity and inclusiveness of policy language, there can be no assurance that a court or arbitration panel will not limit enforceability of policy language or otherwise issue a ruling adverse to us.
Claims for natural or man-made catastrophic events, or an unusual frequency of smaller losses in a particular period, could expose us to large losses and cause substantial volatility in our results of operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to write new business and could cause the value of our common shares to fluctuate widely. Accordingly, we can offer no assurance that our available capital will be adequate to cover any such losses if they materialize. It is not possible to eliminate completely our exposure to unforecasted or unpredictable events and to the extent that losses from such risks occur, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
In addition, our actual losses from catastrophic events may increase if we have reinsured some or all of our exposures and our reinsurers fail to meet their obligations or the reinsurance protections purchased are exhausted or are otherwise unavailable.
For a further discussion, see “Item 2. Financial Information-Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Underwriting, natural and man-made catastrophic events.”
The failure to maintain our credit and letter of credit facilities or to have adequate available collateral in connection with reinsurance contracts may negatively affect our ability to successfully implement our business strategy.
We currently have access to an $800 million credit facility that provides for borrowings and a $100 million letter of credit facility that provides for the issuance of letters of credit. These facilities allow us to borrow for investment and general purposes and also to provide collateral to counterparties in the form of letters of credit. If such facilities were to become unavailable, we might be required to liquidate investment assets at inopportune times, forcing us to realize investment losses.
Additionally, the unavailability of such facilities may limit our ability to borrow funds for investment purposes, thereby reducing our investment income, or prevent us from writing certain classes of business where collateral in the form of letters of credit is required.
In particular, our primary reinsurance operating subsidiary, Watford Re, is neither licensed nor admitted as a reinsurer in any jurisdiction other than Bermuda nor is it licensed or admitted as an insurer in any jurisdiction in the United States. Certain jurisdictions, including in the United States, may not permit our insurance company clients to take full statutory credit for reinsurance obtained from unlicensed or non-admitted insurers unless appropriate collateral is provided. In addition, ceding companies, including Arch, may require additional collateral to mitigate counterparty risk irrespective of regulatory requirements. As a result, we are generally required either to post collateral or to provide a letter of credit in connection with this portion of our business. We have and intend to maintain letter of credit facilities and/or trust arrangements to meet these collateral requirements.
An event of default under our credit or letter of credit facilities (including as a result of events that are beyond our control) may require us to liquidate assets held in these facilities, have an adverse effect on our liquidity position as the facilities have a security interest in the collateral posted, or require us to take other material actions. Any such forced sale of these investment assets could negatively affect our return on our investment portfolios, which could negatively affect the types and amount of business we choose to underwrite. A default under our credit or letter of credit facilities may cause the facilities to exercise control over the collateral posted, negatively affecting our ability to earn investment income or to pay claims or other operating expenses. Additionally, a default under any of these facilities may have a negative impact on our relationships with regulators, rating agencies and banking counterparties.
Our results of operations will fluctuate from period to period and, in any given period, may not be indicative of our long-term prospects.
Our operating results can be expected to fluctuate from period to period. Fluctuations result from a variety of factors, including: (i) insurance and reinsurance contract pricing; (ii) our assessment of the quality of available underwriting opportunities; (iii) the volume and mix of products we underwrite; (iv) loss experience on the policies we write; (v) our ability to execute our risk management strategy; and (vi) the performance of our investment portfolios.
In particular, we seek to underwrite products and make investments to achieve favorable return on average equity over the long term. In addition, our opportunistic nature and focus on long-term growth in book value may result in fluctuations in total premiums written and results of operations from period to period as we concentrate on underwriting contracts that we believe will generate attractive long-term results. Accordingly, our short-term results of operations may not be indicative of our long-term prospects.
Returns on business written by us may, and likely will, deviate from the return on equity modeled at the time the policy or contract was written, perhaps substantially.
Insurance by its nature entails risk and uncertainty. Reinsurance risks may be even more difficult to assess than insurance risks because, especially with respect to treaty business, the reinsurance underwriter is one step removed from the underlying risks being assumed, which are underwritten by the cedants’ underwriters.
Actual investment returns on our investment capital and underwriting cash flows may deviate substantially from the investment income assumptions utilized in modeling the insurance or reinsurance contracts we write, thus leading to different economic results than anticipated. Additionally, the collateral actually required to write a contract along with the associated costs of collateral may prove to be significantly different than modeled.
Accordingly, returns on business written by us may, and likely will, deviate, whether positively or negatively, from the return on equity modeled at the time the policy was written, sometimes substantially.
Our operational structure remains under development.
We have recently expanded our operations, adding both a Gibraltar-based platform and a United States-based platform, with licensed companies in each jurisdiction able to write primary insurance, reinsurance or both. Each of our operating subsidiaries has entered into a services agreement with Arch. Similarly, each of our operating subsidiaries and Watford Trust has entered into investment management agreements with (i) HPS for the management of our non-investment grade investment portfolio and (ii) AIM, HPS and/or third-party managers for the management of our investment grade portfolio. In connection with our overseas expansion, we have hired senior managers to oversee those operations. In addition to our continuing process to develop and implement our operational structure and enterprise risk management framework, including exposure management, financial reporting, information technology and internal controls for Watford Re, we are proceeding with a similar effort to incorporate this framework into our U.S. and Gibraltar insurance subsidiaries with the goal of integrating this functionality into a consolidated architecture with which we conduct our overall business activities. Our management controls may not be adequate to identify or eliminate exposures. There can be no assurance that the development of our operational structure or the implementation of our enterprise risk management, or ERM, framework will proceed smoothly or on our projected timetable or achieve the aforementioned goals.
Technology breaches or failures, including those resulting from a cyberattack on us or our service providers and program administrators, could disrupt or otherwise negatively impact our business.
We rely on the information technology systems of our service providers and program administrators to process, transmit, store and protect the electronic information, financial data and proprietary models that are critical to our business. We also license certain key systems and data from third parties, and cannot be certain that we will continue to have access to such third-party systems and data, or those of comparable providers, or that our information technology or application systems will operate as intended. These systems are vulnerable to data breaches, interruptions or failures due to events that may be beyond the control of our service providers, including, but not limited to, natural disasters, theft, terrorist attacks, computer viruses, hackers, errors in usage, general technology failures, defects, failures or interruptions, including those caused by worms, viruses, phishing or power failures. Systemic failures in any of these systems could result in mistakes made in the confirmation or settlement of transactions, or in transactions not being properly booked, evaluated or accounted for. Any such defect or failure, or similar disruption, could cause us to suffer, among other things, financial loss, disruption of business, liability to third parties, regulatory intervention and reputational damage, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Because we rely on the technology systems of our service providers and program administrators for many critical functions, including connecting with our customers, service providers and program administrators, if such systems were to fail or become outmoded, we could experience a significant disruption in our operations and in the business we receive and process, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. We have received no assurances, and no assurances can be made by us, that unauthorized access to our data or to any of the information technology systems used by us or by our service providers and program administrators will not occur.
Our liquidity position is affected by our underwriting, investment and internal operations, and adverse developments in any of these inputs could have a significantly negative impact on our business and liquidity.
We actively manage our liquidity position. Specifically, we maintain most of our investment assets in fixed-income investments, write a medium- to long-tailed underwriting portfolio and seek to limit
our exposure to catastrophes and other events that could cause the need for large claims payouts in a short timeframe. Any adverse liquidity scenario could cause us to realize investment losses or could otherwise harm our business and financial conditions.
We seek to maintain a liquidity position that mitigates the risk of insufficient funds as liabilities come due or having to dispose of investment assets at inopportune times. However, there can be no certainty that we will achieve optimal monitoring and planning of our liquidity position. In particular, our liquidity position is adversely affected by the collateral we post to support our underwriting operations, investment leverage and letters of credit. Collateral posted to any counterparty is otherwise unavailable to other counterparties, which limits the pool of unencumbered assets available to meet liabilities or collateral requirements.
Currency fluctuations could result in exchange losses and negatively impact our business.
Our functional currency is the U.S. dollar. However, because we insure and reinsure financial obligations created or incurred outside of the United States, we write a portion of our business and receive premiums in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. Consequently, we may experience exchange losses to the extent our foreign currency exposure is not hedged or is not sufficiently hedged, which could significantly and negatively affect our business. We make determinations as to whether to hedge our foreign currency exposure on a case-by-case basis.
Any future acquisitions, growth or expansion of our operations may expose us to risks.
We may, in the future, make acquisitions either of other companies or selected blocks of business, expand our business lines or enter into joint ventures. Any future acquisitions may expose us to challenges and risks, including:
integrating financial and operational reporting systems and establishing satisfactory budgetary and other financial controls;
funding increased capital needs, overhead expenses or cash flow shortages that may occur if anticipated sales and revenues are not realized or are delayed, whether by general economic or market conditions or unforeseen internal difficulties;
obtaining management personnel required for expanded operations;
obtaining necessary regulatory permissions;
the value of assets acquired being lower than expected or diminishing due to credit defaults or changes in interest rates and liabilities assumed being greater than expected;
the assets and liabilities we may acquire being subject to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuation; and
financial exposures in the event that the sellers of the entities we acquire are unable or unwilling to meet their indemnification, reinsurance and other obligations to us.
Our failure to manage these operational challenges and risks successfully may impact our results of operations. In addition, if the reserves established by us, as they relate to any acquired book of business, prove to be inadequate, then subject to whatever recourse we may have against the seller or reinsurers, we may be responsible for adverse development in such reserves.
Our business is subject to risks related to litigation.
We may from time to time be subject to a variety of legal actions relating to our current and past business operations, including, but not limited to: (i) disputes over coverage or claims adjudication, including claims by our policyholders alleging that we have acted in bad faith in the administration of claims; (ii) disputes with our cedants or producers over compensation; and (iii) disputes over termination of contracts and related claims.
Multi-party or class action claims may present additional exposure to substantial economic, non-economic or punitive damage awards. The loss of even one of these claims, if it resulted in a significant damage award or a judicial ruling that was otherwise detrimental, could create a precedent in the industry that could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. This risk of potential liability may make reasonable settlements of claims more difficult to obtain. We cannot determine with any certainty what new theories of recovery may evolve or what their impact may be on our business.
Risks related to Arch
We rely on Arch for services critical to our underwriting operations. The termination of one or more of our agreements with Arch may cause disruption in our business and/or materially adversely affect our financial results.
Our operating subsidiaries have entered into services agreements with Arch pursuant to which Arch provides services critical to our underwriting operations, including underwriting, accounting, collections, actuarial, reserve recommendations, claims, legal, information technology and other administrative services. Each services agreement has a term ending on December 31, 2025 and, if neither party gives notice of non-renewal at least 24 months prior to the expiration of the initial term, the term will automatically renew for a five-year period following the initial term, and thereafter the term will continue to renew for successive five-year periods unless either party gives notice of non-renewal at least 24 months before the end of the then-current term. In addition, each services agreement is subject to earlier termination upon the occurrence of certain events. See “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with Arch-Services agreements.” Accordingly, we rely almost entirely on Arch and the various designated employees made available to us by Arch under the services agreements for our underwriting operations. Our operating subsidiaries have also entered into investment management agreements with AIM pursuant to which AIM manages the largest portion of our investment grade investment portfolios. These agreements have initial terms of one year and renew automatically, but can be cancelled by either party upon 45 days prior written notice. See “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with Arch-Investment management agreements.” If any of our services agreements or investment management agreements with Arch is terminated, we would be required to hire staff to provide such services ourselves or retain a third party to provide such services, and no assurances can be made that we would be able to do so in a timely, efficient or cost effective manner. We could therefore suffer, among other things, non-renewals and loss of business, financial loss, disruption of business, liability to third parties, regulatory intervention and reputational damage, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
ACGL is not responsible for our operating results and our results of operations should be expected to differ substantially from ACGL’s results of operations.
Our strategy is determined by our board of directors and differs from ACGL’s strategy. Our management and our board of directors are responsible for our overall profitability and we are solely responsible for our liabilities and commitments. ACGL does not guarantee or provide credit support for us or for any of our subsidiaries and ACGL’s financial exposure to our company is limited to its investment in our common equity and counterparty credit risk (mitigated by collateral) arising from reinsurance transactions. ACGL’s past results are not representative of the results we may achieve and our future results of operations should be expected to differ substantially from ACGL’s future results of operations.
ACGL competes with us and there are potential conflicts of interests.
ACGL competes with us to underwrite business for its portfolio in accordance with its underwriting guidelines, policies, strategies and business plans. Our arrangements with ACGL do not and should not be construed to create a joint venture between us and ACGL.
Under the terms of the services agreements, we have authorized Arch and designated employees made available to us by Arch to underwrite business on our behalf within our underwriting guidelines as set forth in such services agreements. Arch is not required to allocate any business opportunities to us. Arch will continue to underwrite business for its own distinct portfolios in accordance with its own policies, strategies and business plans. Other than with respect to renewals of business previously recommended to, and written by, our underwriting subsidiaries, Arch may, in its discretion, authorize for its own account or for the accounts of any of its affiliates up to the full amount of an offered participation notwithstanding that such participation would also be suitable for our subsidiaries. Arch may also provide underwriting services similar to those provided to us under the services agreements to third parties that also compete with us for business.
Additionally, for so long as Arch is entitled to appoint at least one director to our board of directors, the matters specified under “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Common shareholders agreement-Arch board seats” will require the affirmative vote of at least one director appointed by Arch. Arch is also entitled to have at least one director appointed by Arch serve on each committee of the board of directors. The directors appointed by Arch may have interests that are different from, or in addition to, the interests of our shareholders. In addition, Arch may have interests that differ from or conflict with ours and those of our other shareholders.
Our underwriting subsidiaries have entered into reinsurance and retrocession contracts covering exposures of ACGL, which could result in losses.
Certain business written by us provides reinsurance or retrocessional cover for ACGL, and thus we may pay losses pursuant to such reinsurance and retrocession contracts that serve to reduce the net loss suffered by ACGL related to the underlying exposures. If business written by us to provide reinsurance or retrocessional cover for ACGL is not profitable, our financial condition and results of operations could be significantly and adversely impacted.
As a Class 4 insurer, Watford Re is required to appoint an individual approved by the BMA to be its loss reserve specialist. Watford Re has appointed, and may from time to time appoint, as its loss reserve specialist an individual who also performs services for ACGL, which services are performed for ACGL as part of a larger engagement between ACGL and the independent consulting firm that employs such loss reserve specialist. As part of the agreement between us and such independent consulting firm, we have agreed to allow Watford Re’s loss reserve specialist to utilize the data analysis performed by him and the independent consulting firm that employs him for the benefit of the ACGL engagement to the extent such data relates to business ceded from ACGL to us. An analysis performed by a specialist who does not also perform services for ACGL could result in different reserve recommendations.
Certain provisions of the services agreements may result in circumstances where profit commissions payable to Arch do not correlate directly with profit earned by our applicable operating subsidiary.
Under each of the services agreements, Arch is entitled to receive a profit commission for each underwriting year, calculated annually and payable in arrears in four installments over four years, with adjustments for the following 15 years. The profit commission for each underwriting year is calculated based upon performance relating only to such underwriting year and any losses experienced by the applicable operating subsidiaries with respect to a given underwriting year will affect only the calculation of profit commission payable in respect of that underwriting year for such operating subsidiaries. If the underwriting results of a particular underwriting year deteriorate over time, future installments related to that particular underwriting year will be reduced accordingly, and to the extent that such deterioration would cause that underwriting year’s profit commission to be less than amounts already received in respect thereof by Arch, the installment of profit commission under that particular services agreement for such underwriting year that are payable in subsequent years will be reduced commensurately. However, such reduction will not
affect the calculation of profit commission due with respect to any prior or subsequent underwriting year, and only will apply with regard to that particular services agreement. As a result, Arch may be entitled to receive profit commissions from one or more of our operating subsidiaries with respect to profitable underwriting years, if any, without considering whether or to what extent we may have been unprofitable in other underwriting years or whether we would be profitable if profits were calculated on a cumulative basis from the date of our inception.
In addition, the profit commission formula has certain parameters such as assumed internal expenses and investment returns as pre-agreed assumptions. Actual internal expenses and investment returns may deviate, sometimes substantially, from those in the profit commission formula. To the extent our actual expenses are greater than those assumed in the applicable services agreement profit commission calculation, we may be required to pay a profit commission for underwriting years that are ultimately not profitable to us.
Furthermore, in certain instances, for example, if we direct Arch to take any actions or make any changes that we believe are necessary to satisfy a rating agency requirement or to respond to a projected shortfall in the minimum annual premium requirements set forth in a particular services agreement, Arch may timely elect to exclude the underwriting results of such non-conforming business from the calculation of Arch’s profit commission. In such event, Arch will continue to be responsible to administer such business; however, if such excluded business causes our overall insurance or reinsurance portfolio to be unprofitable and, but for such excluded business, the applicable insurance or reinsurance portfolio would have been profitable, Arch will be entitled to receive its profit commission under the applicable services agreement on the profitable insurance or reinsurance portfolio that excludes such excluded business.
Arch may take actions in the future that cause its and our interests to be less aligned.
Arch may choose to dispose of some or all of our common shares held by it at any time or from time to time after the initial listing of our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Market and it may choose to dispose of some or all of our preference shares held by it at any time or from time to time after the earlier to occur of (i) March 31, 2019 and (ii) the consummation of an initial public offering of our preference shares in the United States or a listing of our preference shares on a U.S. national securities exchange. Any disposal of our common shares by Arch will cause the interests of Arch to be less aligned with our interests, and could adversely affect our ratings and/or our reputation, all of which could significantly and negatively affect our business.
We could be materially adversely affected to the extent that Arch exceeds its authority under the services agreements or otherwise fails to comply with the terms of the services agreements.
Pursuant to the services agreements, Arch and its designated employees are authorized to underwrite business on our behalf in accordance with the related underwriting guidelines established by us. We rely upon the underwriting controls of Arch to supervise designated employees writing business. Although we monitor such business on an ongoing basis, our monitoring efforts may not be adequate to prevent Arch or the designated employees from exceeding their authority, committing fraud or otherwise failing to comply with the terms of the services agreements and related underwriting guidelines. Arch also performs claims management services for us, including establishment and adjustment of case reserves and payment of claims. To the extent that Arch and/or the designated employees exceed their authorities, commit fraud or otherwise fail to comply with the terms of the services agreements and related underwriting guidelines, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
Subject to our investment guidelines, AIM has broad discretion in managing the assets in our investment grade portfolio we allocate to AIM. The performance of our investment grade portfolio largely depends on the ability of AIM to select and manage appropriate investment grade investments.
AIM manages the largest portion of the assets of our investment grade portfolio into which we contribute certain of our invested assets and, subject to our investment grade investment guidelines, has broad investment discretion. The performance of our investment grade portfolio depends on the ability of AIM to select and manage appropriate investments within the agreed investment guidelines. The failure of AIM or any third party appointed by AIM to perform adequately could result in losses or less profitable investments than anticipated, each of which could significantly and negatively affect our business.
Risks related to our investments
The performance of our investments is highly dependent upon conditions in the global economy or financial markets that are outside of our Investment Managers’ control and can be difficult to predict.
The performance of our investments may be affected by general economic or financial market conditions and risks, such as interest rates, availability of credit, inflation rates, economic uncertainty, changes in laws (including laws relating to taxation), trade barriers, commodity prices, currency exchange rates and controls, and national and international political circumstances (including wars, terrorist acts or security operations), any of which could have a material negative impact on our investments. These factors, among others, may affect the level and volatility of securities prices and the liquidity of our investments, which could reduce our investment returns and negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition. Unpredictable or unstable economic or financial market conditions or declines in current economic or financial conditions may also result in reduced opportunities to find suitable risk-adjusted investments to deploy capital or make it more difficult to exit and realize value from existing investments. Such conditions could prevent our Investment Managers from successfully executing their investment strategies or could cause assets in the investment portfolios to be disposed of at a loss.
While overall economic and financial market conditions have slowly improved from the depths of the U.S. recession, there continues to be concern about the prospects for renewed growth in the U.S. economy. There can be no assurance that the economy will improve or that market conditions will not begin to deteriorate once again. In addition, turbulence in international markets and economies may negatively affect the U.S. economy and financial markets.
Conversely, if the economy recovers faster than our Investment Managers expect or the recovery outperforms our Investment Managers’ expectations, there may be reduced investment opportunities or a reduced ability to acquire investments on favorable terms. Markets can correlate strongly at times in ways that are difficult for a manager to predict, so even a well-diversified approach may not protect an investment portfolio from significant losses under certain market conditions.
We depend upon HPS to manage the investments of the funds in our non-investment grade portfolio and upon AIM, HPS and other Investment Managers to manage the investments of the funds in our investment grade portfolio. Our Investment Managers, their affiliates or any of their respective principals or other employees may engage in investment and trading activities for their own accounts and for the accounts of others, which could cause various conflicts of interest to arise that may not be resolved in our favor.
We depend upon HPS to manage the investments in our non-investment grade portfolio, into which we contribute a substantial majority of our invested assets. Each HPS non-investment grade portfolio investment management agreement has a current term ending on December 31, 2025
and, if neither party gives notice of non-renewal at least 24 months prior to the expiration of the current term, the term will automatically renew for a five-year period following the current term, and thereafter the term will continue to renew for successive five-year periods unless either party gives notice of non-renewal at least 24 months before the end of the then-current term. In addition, each non-investment grade portfolio investment management agreement is subject to earlier termination upon the occurrence of certain events. See “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with HPS-Investment management agreements.” We depend upon AIM, HPS and third-party investment managers to manage the investments in our investment grade portfolio, into which we also contribute a portion of our invested assets. As a result, the diminution or loss of our Investment Managers’ services could negatively impact the investment portfolios and, accordingly, our results of operations and financial condition.
None of our Investment Managers or their affiliates or any of their respective principals or other employees are obligated to devote any specific amount of time or effort to managing the investment portfolios we have allocated to them. Each of them may engage in investment and trading activities for their own accounts and for the accounts of others. Additionally, there is no specific limit in the investment management agreements with our Investment Managers as to the number of accounts which may be managed or advised by our Investment Managers. Our Investment Managers manage and expect to continue to manage other funds and accounts which may have objectives similar to or different from ours. Our Investment Managers are not required to provide us with the same fee structures, investment objectives and policies of their other accounts, which could cause our Investment Managers to effect trading in one portfolio or account that may have an adverse effect on another, including those in which we have invested. Other than with regard to our non-investment grade portfolio and the investment grade separate account they manage for us, we are not entitled to inspect the trading records of HPS or its principals or employees. Similarly, other than with regard to our investment grade portfolio, we are not entitled to inspect the trading records of AIM, our other Investment Managers or their respective principals or employees. The investment management agreements with our Investment Managers do not impose any specific obligations or requirements concerning allocation of investment opportunities to us or any restriction on the nature or timing of investments for our account and for other accounts. Various conflicts of interest could arise which may not be resolved in our favor and accordingly, could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. For instance, the funds and other accounts managed by our Investment Managers and their affiliates may employ a substantially identical strategy as that employed by us. Such funds and accounts may compete with us for allocation of investments. Investment opportunities that may be potentially appropriate for us may also be appropriate for the other of our Investment Managers’ funds or accounts and there can be no assurance that we will be allocated those investment opportunities. The investments of our company and such other funds or accounts may not be parallel due to different leverage, fee structures, inflows and outflows of capital, variations in strategy, redemption/withdrawal rights and applicable business and regulatory considerations. Such other funds and accounts may invest in different parts of an issuer’s capital structure from our company (e.g., with the other funds and accounts occupying the more senior parts of the capital structure), thereby creating conflicts of interest which would be amplified if the issuer’s financial conditions became impaired. Such other funds and accounts may take short positions on issuers to which we have long exposure, and vice versa. In addition, such other funds and accounts may enter into or exit an investment at different times, and on different terms, than we do and such actions may adversely impact us.
Our Investment Managers each have broad discretionary authority to determine how the funds in our investment portfolios are invested, and are not required to conduct any minimum level of research or analysis in connection with making investment decisions for us.
Pursuant to the applicable non-investment grade investment guidelines, HPS has broad discretionary authority to determine how the funds in our non-investment grade portfolio are
invested. Similarly, in our investment grade portfolio, AIM, HPS and our other Investment Managers each has broad discretionary authority within their respective investment guidelines to determine how the funds in their respective allocations of our investment grade portfolio are invested. While their investment efforts may be supported by the fundamental research of issuers, sectors, markets and financial instruments, none of our Investment Managers is required to conduct any minimum level of research or analysis in connection with making investment decisions for us. Our Investment Managers may from time to time instead make investment decisions based upon other factors. In such a circumstance, our Investment Managers would invest opportunistically without the due diligence or analysis that may be utilized with respect to other investments. For example, our Investment Managers may purchase or sell certain instruments based solely on our Investment Managers’ anticipation of general market trends or trends relating to a specific instrument without conducting any analysis or research or, in some cases, our Investment Managers may disregard available analysis and research relating to such instruments.
The success of our investment portfolios is dependent on each of our Investment Managers’ ability to develop and implement appropriate systems and procedures to control investment-related operational risks.
HPS’s non-investment grade investment management business is dynamic and complex. As a result, certain operational exposures are intrinsic to its operations, especially given the volume, diversity and complexity of transactions that HPS enters into daily. Our non-investment grade portfolio investments are highly dependent on HPS’s ability to process, on a daily basis, a high volume of transactions across numerous and diverse markets. Consequently, we rely heavily on financial, accounting and other data processing systems of HPS. The inability of these systems to accommodate an increasing volume, diversity and complexity of transactions could constrain the ability of HPS to properly manage the non-investment grade portfolio and/or its portion of the investment grade portfolio.
Our Investment Managers rely extensively on computer programs and systems to trade, clear and settle securities transactions, to evaluate certain securities based on real-time trading information, to monitor their portfolios and to generate risk management and other reports that are critical to their oversight of our investment portfolios. Certain of our Investment Managers’ operations interface with or depend on systems operated by third parties, including their prime brokers and market counterparties, exchanges and similar clearance and settlement facilities, and other parties, and our Investment Managers may not be in a position to verify the exposures or reliability of third-party systems. Our Investment Managers’ and third parties’ programs and systems may be subject to defects, failures or interruptions, including those caused by worms, viruses, phishing and power failures. Systemic failures in any of these systems could result in mistakes made in the confirmation or settlement of transactions, or in transactions not being properly booked, evaluated or accounted for. Any such defect or failure, or similar disruption, could cause our Investment Managers to suffer, among other things, financial loss, disruption of businesses, liability to third parties, regulatory intervention and reputational damage, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our investments.
Our business could be significantly and negatively affected in the event that one or more of our Investment Managers is unable to transfer or does not timely transfer funds to us necessary for us to make payments under our insurance or reinsurance contracts or to fulfill our other obligations.
Upon notification by us or by Arch on our behalf, each of our Investment Managers is obligated to transfer funds to us necessary for us to make payments under our insurance or reinsurance contracts and fulfill our other obligations. Moreover, at various times, the markets for investment products held in our investment portfolios may be “thin” or illiquid, making the sale at desired prices or in desired quantities difficult or impossible. In the event that one or more of our Investment Managers fail to make such a transfer or cannot liquidate investment products in the applicable portfolio in order to make such a transfer, we may have insufficient resources to make payments under our
insurance or reinsurance contracts or otherwise fulfill our obligations, which could significantly and negatively affect our business.
Errors or misconduct by employees of our Investment Managers or their third-party service providers could cause significant losses to our investments.
Our Investment Managers rely on a substantial number of their respective personnel, as well as certain counterparties and third-party service providers. Accordingly, risks associated with errors by such personnel, counterparties and third-party service providers are inherent in our business and operations and in those of our investment portfolios. In addition, employee misconduct could occur, including binding us to transactions that exceed authorized limits or present unacceptable risks and unauthorized investment activities or concealing unsuccessful investment activities, which, in any case, could result in unknown and unmanaged risks or losses. Given the volume of transactions executed by the Investment Managers on behalf of the investment portfolios, potential investors should assume that trading errors (and similar errors) will occur and that the investment portfolios will be responsible for any resulting losses, even if such losses result from the negligence of the Investment Managers or their affiliates. Losses could also result from actions by counterparties or third-party service providers, including failing to recognize trades and misappropriating assets. In addition, employees, counterparties and third-party service providers could improperly use or disclose confidential information, which could result in litigation or serious financial harm, including limiting our business prospects.
Although our Investment Managers have each adopted measures to prevent and detect employee errors and misconduct and to select reliable third-party service providers, it is not always possible to deter such misconduct, and the precautions the Investment Managers take to detect and prevent such misconduct may not be effective in all cases. From time to time, our Investment Managers or their affiliates may elect to voluntarily reimburse the investment portfolios for losses suffered as a result of certain trade errors. However, notwithstanding the previous sentence, potential investors should not carry the expectation that a reimbursement will ever take place and, in evaluating the investment, no decisions should be made in reliance on the Investment Managers making any reimbursements to the investment portfolios for losses suffered as a result of such trade errors.
Our investment management agreements with HPS provide that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, we will indemnify and hold harmless HPS and any of its members, managers, officers, partners, affiliates and employees (each, an HPS Indemnified Person) from and against any losses, damages, liabilities, deficiencies, actions, judgments, interest, awards, penalties, fines, costs or expenses of whatever kind, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and the cost of enforcing any right to indemnification and the cost of pursuing any insurance providers (collectively, HPS-related Losses) suffered or sustained by an HPS Indemnified Person, except those HPS-related Losses resulting from an action or inaction or mistake of judgment taken by an HPS Indemnified Person that constituted fraud, gross negligence or intentional misconduct, in each case, as determined in a final non-appealable judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction. In addition, our investment management agreements with HPS provide that no HPS Indemnified Person will be liable to us for any HPS-related Losses suffered by us in connection with any matters to which the investment management agreements with HPS relate, including, but not limited to, trading losses, except those HPS-related Losses resulting from (x) such HPS Indemnified Person’s gross negligence or intentional misconduct or (y) material intentional breaches of the applicable investment guidelines by HPS, which breaches are not cured within 90 days of the earlier of (A) the date on which HPS becomes aware of such breach and (B) the date on which we notify HPS of such breach. Each of the investment management agreements with HPS provides that no breach of the related investment guidelines shall be deemed to have occurred if (i) we have agreed in writing to an amendment to such investment guidelines such that HPS’s actions under the amended investment guidelines would not constitute a breach of such guidelines, (ii) such actions were approved by our Chief Executive Officer or Chief Risk Officer in writing or (iii) such actions were taken pursuant to our instructions.
Our investment management agreements with AIM provide that neither AIM nor any of its directors, officers, employees, shareholders and agents will be liable to us for any losses, liabilities, claims, causes of action, costs, damages or expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees (collectively, AIM-related Losses) arising from, or caused by, AIM’s negligence or material breach of the investment managements with AIM, to the extent such AIM-related Losses arise from, or are caused by, our acts or omissions.
We or one or more of our Investment Managers may become subject to third-party litigation that could result in significant liabilities, litigation-related expenses and reputational harm, which could have an adverse effect on our investments.
One or more of our Investment Managers may be named as a defendant(s) in civil proceedings. The outcome of any legal proceedings, which may materially adversely affect the value of our non-investment grade portfolio or our investment grade portfolio, may be impossible to anticipate, and such proceedings may continue without resolution for long periods of time. Any litigation may consume substantial amounts of any such Investment Manager’s time and attention, and that time and the devotion of these resources to litigation may, at times, be disproportionate to the amounts at stake in the litigation. Accordingly, any such litigation could adversely affect our business and results of operations and the value of our investments.
We may be named as a defendant in civil proceedings as a result of our having one or more of our Investment Managers manage our non-investment grade portfolio or our investment grade portfolio. The expense of defending against claims by third parties and paying any amounts pursuant to settlements or judgments would generally be borne by us, would increase our costs and would reduce net assets.
Additionally, one or more of our Investment Managers could effect investments through vehicles that could subject us to creditors’ claims. Under the non-investment grade investment guidelines, HPS is permitted to effect investments on behalf of the non-investment grade portfolio through limited partnerships, limited liability companies, corporations or other vehicles sponsored or managed by HPS or its affiliates or third parties. A creditor having a claim that relates to a particular investment held by any such vehicle may be able to satisfy such claim against all assets of such vehicle, without regard to our rights with respect to such vehicle.
Our Investment Managers from time to time may be restricted or prohibited from trading in the securities of certain companies.
As part of their respective investment management activities, our Investment Managers may, from time to time, come into possession of material non-public information. For example, HPS may place a representative on the board of directors of a company in which our non-investment grade portfolio has invested or may sign a confidentiality agreement in the context of a contemplated transaction. Alternatively, in their personal capacity, employees of our Investment Managers may sit on a company’s board of directors or hold a significant personal interest in a company. In such a circumstance, such Investment Manager may be considered an “insider” for the purpose of the U.S. federal securities laws and, accordingly, may be restricted or prohibited from trading securities of such company, including securities that we may already own. In addition, our Investment Managers’ compliance departments may impose internal trading restrictions on the securities of a particular issuer, even if trading in those securities is not strictly prohibited as a matter of law. If a restriction is in place, it may result in missed investment opportunities and may result in a loss of value, including a total loss, of an existing investment.
The ability of our Investment Managers to use “soft dollars” and to select any broker-dealer, including themselves or their affiliates, may provide our Investment Managers, when selecting broker-dealers, with an incentive to take into account the soft-dollar benefits available from the broker-dealers or pose other conflicts of interest.
Subject to the terms of the investment management agreements with our Investment Managers, as applicable, our Investment Managers are permitted to select any broker or dealer, including themselves or their affiliates, in connection with any investment or any trade. In choosing brokers and dealers, none of our Investment Managers is required to consider any particular criteria. Our Investment Managers are not required to select the broker or dealer that charges the lowest transaction cost, even if that broker provides execution quality comparable to other brokers or dealers. Our Investment Managers may consider the value of various services or products, beyond execution, that a broker-dealer provides to us or our Investment Managers. Our Investment Managers and/or their delegates are authorized to effect transactions for their respective portfolios through affiliated broker-dealers and the affiliated broker-dealers may retain commissions in connection with effecting such agency transactions, even though other broker-dealers may be willing to effect transactions for us at lower commission rates than those charged by affiliated broker-dealers. Our Investment Managers’ rights to use soft dollars may give them an incentive to select brokers or dealers for our transactions, or to negotiate commission rates or other execution terms, in a manner that takes into account the soft dollar benefits received by them rather than giving exclusive consideration to the interests of our investment portfolio and, accordingly, may create a conflict.
The investment portfolios are exposed to risks that prime brokers, custodians, clearing agents, exchanges, clearing houses and other financial intermediaries and guarantors may default on their obligations.
Prime brokers, custodians, clearing agents, exchanges, clearing houses and other financial intermediaries and guarantors may default on their obligations due to bankruptcy, insolvency, lack of liquidity, adverse economic conditions, operational failure, fraud or other reasons. Any default of this nature could have a significant and negative effect on the investment portfolios. For example, assets may be left on deposit with brokers and banks, and not held by a bank custodian. Rule 15c3-3 under the Exchange Act requires a broker-dealer to segregate a customer’s securities from the broker-dealer’s own assets. If the broker-dealer fails to do so, there is a risk of loss of the assets held by the broker-dealer in the event of the broker-dealer’s bankruptcy. In the event of a failure of a broker-dealer to segregate assets, the U.S. Securities Investor Protection Corporation provides a maximum of $500,000 of account insurance per customer, subject to a limit of $250,000 for cash. Since our assets on deposit usually will exceed these amounts, we may receive only a pro rata share of the remaining assets deposited with the failed broker-dealer. Foreign broker-dealers that may not be subject to investor protection regulations may also be utilized. In the event of the failure or insolvency of a foreign broker-dealer, the portion of our assets on deposit that are recoverable may be extremely limited.
The funds in the investment portfolios are and will continue to be invested in securities and loans of issuers and borrowers organized or based outside the United States, which may prove riskier than securities and loans of U.S. issuers and borrowers.
Funds in the investment portfolios are and will continue to be invested in securities and loans of issuers and borrowers organized or based outside the United States, which may be subject to a variety of exposures and other special considerations not affecting securities and loans of U.S. issuers and borrowers. Many non-U.S. securities markets are not as developed or efficient as those in the United States. Securities of some non-U.S. issuers are less liquid and more volatile than securities of comparable U.S. issuers. Similarly, volume and liquidity in many non-U.S. securities markets are less than in the United States and, at times, price volatility can be greater than in the United States. Non-U.S. issuers and borrowers may be subject to less stringent financial reporting and
informational disclosure standards, practices and requirements than those applicable to U.S. issuers and borrowers. In addition, there are increasing market concerns as to the potential default of government issuers. Should governments default on their obligations, there could be a negative impact on both government securities and non-government investments held within the country of default.
Furthermore, investments in non-U.S. markets may be in non-U.S. dollar-denominated assets. Consequently, any non-U.S. dollar investments in the investment portfolios would be subject to any changes in exchange control regulations and, furthermore, may experience exchange losses to the extent that foreign currency exposure is not hedged or is not sufficiently hedged against changes in currency rates. Forward contracts on currencies, as well as purchase put or call options on currencies, may be entered into in various markets. There can be no guarantee that instruments suitable for hedging currency or market shifts will be available at any given time or will be able to be liquidated at any given time. In addition, any currency hedging transactions entered into may include a credit component, pursuant to which the hedging counterparty may be granted a security interest in certain of our assets. Such security interest may include an undivided interest in all of our assets, and may not be limited solely to the assets to which the hedge relates. Accordingly, in such a case, if a default occurs with respect to a currency hedging transaction relating to certain of our assets, then the hedging counterparty could lay claim to an interest in all of our assets, including those not related to the hedging transaction.
There may be costs in connection with conversions between various currencies. Currency exchange dealers realize a profit based on the difference between the prices at which they are buying and selling various currencies. A dealer normally will offer to sell currency at one rate, while offering a lesser rate upon immediate resale of that currency to the dealer. Currency exchange transactions will be conducted either on a spot (i.e., cash) basis at the spot rate prevailing in the currency exchange market, or through entering into forward or options contracts to purchase or sell the currencies needed. We anticipate that certain of the currency exchange transactions will occur at the time securities and loans are purchased and will be executed through the local broker or custodian.
The investment portfolios are exposed to risk that the underlying debtor/borrower of debt securities or loans held by the investment portfolios may not make interest or principal payments when they become due, or that the debtor/borrower makes a material misrepresentation or omission.
A fundamental risk associated with the investment portfolios is the risk that a corporate debtor will be unable to make principal and interest payments when due. Companies in which the funds in the investment portfolios are invested could deteriorate as a result of an adverse development in their business, a change in the competitive environment, an economic downturn, or legal, tax or regulatory changes, among other factors. As a result, companies which were expected to be stable may experience financial or business difficulties, including operating at a loss or having significant variations in operating results or requiring substantial additional capital to support their operations or to maintain their competitive position.
The companies in which the funds in the non-investment grade portfolio are invested may be highly leveraged, which may have significant consequences to these corporations or companies and the non-investment grade portfolio. For example, a highly leveraged company may be (i) limited in its ability to borrow money for its working capital, capital expenditures, debt service requirements, strategic initiatives or other purposes; (ii) required to dedicate a substantial portion of its cash flow from operations to the repayment of its indebtedness, thereby reducing funds available for other purposes; and (iii) more highly leveraged than some of its competitors, which may place it at a competitive disadvantage.
Highly leveraged companies may also be subject to restrictive financial and operating covenants, which may preclude favorable business activities or the financing of future operations or capital
needs. However, highly leveraged corporations or companies whose loans do not subject them to financial and operating covenants may be subject to a separate set of risks.
Instead of using proceeds of debt to make strategic investments or invest in operating or financial assets, or for working capital, a corporation or company may use such proceeds to pay a dividend to stockholders. As a result, these companies may have limited capital to respond to changing conditions and to take advantage of business opportunities. A highly leveraged corporation or company is subject to increased exposure to adverse economic factors, such as a significant rise in interest rates, a severe downturn in the economy or deterioration in the condition of that company or its industry.
A company may be forced to take other actions to satisfy its obligations if it is unable to generate sufficient cash flow to meet principal and interest payments. The company may try reducing or delaying capital expenditures, selling assets, seeking additional capital or restructuring or refinancing indebtedness. The value of an investment in such company could be significantly reduced or even eliminated if such strategies are not successful and do not permit the company to meet its scheduled debt service obligations.
Further, the continuing conditions in the worldwide credit markets could adversely affect the companies in which the funds in the investment portfolios are invested. Certain companies may not be able to refinance existing leverage or access the additional capital they may need to grow or maintain their businesses in the current financial markets.
Funds in the non-investment grade portfolio may be invested in loans that have limited mandatory amortization requirements. While such a loan may obligate the borrower to repay the loan out of asset sale proceeds or with annual excess cash flow, such requirements may be subject to substantial limitations and/or “baskets” that would allow a portfolio company to retain such proceeds or cash flow, thereby extending the expected weighted average life of the investment. In addition, a low level of amortization of any debt over the life of the investment may increase the risk that the borrower will not be able to repay or refinance loans when they come due.
Investments made using funds in the investment portfolios may be subject to early redemption features, refinancing options, prepayment options or similar provisions which, in each case, could result in an issuer repaying the principal on an obligation earlier than expected. This may happen when there is a decline in interest rates, or when performance allows refinancing with lower cost debt. Should conditions in the credit market revert to the conditions that existed in the early part of 2007, early prepayments of debt could increase. To the extent early prepayments increase, they may have a material adverse effect on our investment objectives and the profits on capital invested in fixed income investments.
Moreover, companies in which funds in the investment portfolios may be invested may face intense competition, including competition from companies with greater financial resources, more extensive development, manufacturing, marketing and other capabilities, and a larger number of qualified personnel.
Additionally, there is risk associated with debt investing due to the possibility of material misrepresentation or omission on the part of the borrower. Such inaccuracy or incompleteness may adversely affect the valuation of the collateral underlying the loans or may adversely affect the ability to perfect or effectuate a lien on the collateral securing the loan. The accuracy and completeness of representations made by borrowers will be relied upon to the extent reasonable, but cannot guarantee such accuracy or completeness. Under certain circumstances, payments made by a borrower in connection with a debt may be reclaimed if any such payment or distribution is later determined to have been a fraudulent conveyance.
Uncertainty relating to the LIBOR calculation process and potential phasing out of LIBOR after 2021 may adversely affect the value of our investment portfolio and may further affect our ability to enter into borrowing arrangements bearing a floating rate of interest.
Regulators and law enforcement agencies in the UK and elsewhere are conducting civil and criminal investigations into whether the banks that contribute to the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) in connection with the calculation of daily LIBOR may have been under-reporting or otherwise manipulating or attempting to manipulate LIBOR. A number of BBA member banks have entered into settlements with their regulators and law enforcement agencies with respect to this alleged manipulation of LIBOR.
Actions by the BBA, regulators or law enforcement agencies may result in changes to the manner in which LIBOR is determined or the establishment of alternative reference rates. For example, on July 27, 2017, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021. At this time, it is not possible to predict the effect of any such changes, any establishment of alternative reference rates or any other reforms to LIBOR that may be enacted in the UK or elsewhere. Uncertainty as to the nature of such potential changes, alternative reference rates or other reforms may adversely affect the trading market for LIBOR-based loans and securities, including those held in our investment portfolio and may further adversely affect our ability to enter into borrowing arrangements bearing a floating rate of interest. As of September 30, 2018, approximately 54% of our invested assets were floating rate investments, some of which were referenced to LIBOR.
Subject to our investment guidelines, HPS has broad discretion in managing a portion of the assets in our investment grade portfolio. The performance of this portion of our investment grade portfolio largely depends on the ability of HPS to select and manage appropriate investment grade investments.
HPS manages a portion of the assets in our investment grade portfolio as a recently-created separate managed account into which we contribute certain of our invested assets. Subject to our investment grade investment guidelines, HPS has broad investment discretion. The performance of the portion of our investment grade portfolio managed by HPS depends on the ability of HPS to select and manage appropriate investments within the agreed investment guidelines. The failure of HPS or any third party appointed by HPS to perform adequately could result in losses or less profitable investments than anticipated, each of which could significantly and negatively affect our business.
Risks related to HPS and the HPS-managed non-investment grade portfolio
HPS utilizes investment strategies and employs trading techniques that involve inherent exposures, which could result in substantial losses to our non-investment grade portfolio and, as a result, to us.
The non-investment grade investments, investment strategies and trading techniques utilized by HPS are more speculative, volatile and, in certain cases, less liquid than the investments made by a more traditional reinsurer. To the extent any of our non-investment grade portfolio investments generate losses, or gains are reduced by transaction costs, embedded expenses or currency fluctuations, the negative impact on the non-investment grade portfolio could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Under the non-investment grade investment guidelines, HPS is permitted to use a variety of derivatives and other financial instruments both for investment purposes and for risk management purposes. However, HPS is not obligated to, and may choose not to, hedge against risks. Although hedging transactions may be entered into to seek to reduce risk, those transactions may result in a poorer overall performance than if such hedging transactions had not been entered into.
Funds in our non-investment grade portfolio may from time to time be invested in the following investments, among others:
fixed income investments, including, without limitation, corporate debt such as secured and unsecured loans, high yield bonds and structured credit instruments;
loans of portfolio securities;
hedging transactions, including derivatives;
short positions, including on individual names or indices;
non-public, restricted and illiquid securities;
equity and credit index options;
call options and put options, on “covered” or “non-covered” bases;
contracts for differences;
co-investments and joint ventures;
special opportunity investments, including, without limitation, as investments in types of activities (such as oil and gas exploration), various types of litigation claims and consumer receivables (such as automobile loans and real estate), commercial receivables, equipment and other leases, residential and commercial mortgage loans, as well as other financial instruments that provide for the contractual or conditional payment of an obligation; and
other derivative instruments, including those that are not presently contemplated for use or that are currently not available, but that may be developed.
For a discussion of the investments in which HPS has invested the funds in our non-investment grade portfolio from our initial funding in March 2014 until the present, see “Item 1. Business-Our operations-Investment operations-Non-investment grade portfolio-Investment strategy.”
Other than as set forth in the non-investment grade investment guidelines, HPS is not prohibited from concentrating investments in particular types of positions or strategies. At times, the non-investment grade portfolio may have an unusually high concentration in certain types of positions because of HPS’s investment methods and strategies. The investment risk of a portfolio that is concentrated in particular positions or strategies is greater than if the portfolio is invested in a more diversified manner.
Our investments differ from those of many insurers and reinsurers because our non-investment grade portfolio is predominantly invested in corporate credit investments, which can be speculative and volatile and which could increase the riskiness and volatility of our results. In addition, the use of financial leverage could increase the riskiness of our non-investment grade portfolio’s investment strategy and volatility of our net income.
We derive a significant portion of our income from our non-investment grade portfolio investments, and our operating results depend to a significant degree on the performance of those investments. HPS, subject to the non-investment grade investment guidelines, has broad discretion to manage the assets of the non-investment grade portfolio into which we contribute a substantial portion of our invested assets. The non-investment grade portfolio is composed of investments in a combination of loans, debt and equity securities, derivatives and other investment products. The prices of securities and other investment products are volatile, and the volatility of our investments is increased by the use of leverage, leading to significantly greater exposures. Given the leveraged nature of the non-investment grade portfolio, a relatively small price movement may result in immediate and substantial losses to our non-investment grade portfolio.
Certain markets in which funds in the non-investment grade portfolio are invested are extremely competitive for attractive investment opportunities, which may limit investment opportunities, and if any of those markets were to become less attractive, HPS may be forced to liquidate positions in those markets under conditions of reduced liquidity.
The funds in the non-investment grade portfolio are invested in competitive markets and, on our behalf, HPS may be unable to identify or successfully pursue attractive investment opportunities in those environments. Among other factors, competition for suitable investments from other pooled investment vehicles, the public debt syndication markets and other investors may reduce the availability of investment opportunities. There has been significant growth in the number of firms organized to make such investments and there are relatively few barriers to entry, which may result in increased competition in obtaining suitable investments or an increase in the number of investors that are attempting to purchase or sell similar positions simultaneously. Some of these competitors may have access to greater amounts of capital and to capital that may be committed for longer periods of time or may have different return thresholds, and thus these competitors may have unique advantages. In addition, competitors may have incurred, or may in the future incur, leverage to finance their investments at levels or on terms more favorable than those available to HPS in regard to the funds in the non-investment grade portfolio. Significant expenses may be incurred in connection with the identification of investment opportunities and investigating other potential investments that are ultimately not consummated, including expenses relating to due diligence, transportation and legal, accounting and other professional services, as well as the fees of other advisers. If many investment funds that pursue similar strategies were forced to liquidate positions at the same time, market liquidity would be reduced, which may cause prices to drop, volatility to increase and losses to be exacerbated.
We do not control the decisions of HPS, and HPS may invest the assets in our non-investment grade portfolio in its discretion within the framework of the applicable non-investment grade investment guidelines. The performance of our non-investment grade portfolio depends on the ability of HPS to select and manage appropriate investments.
HPS manages the assets of the non-investment grade portfolio into which we contribute substantially all of our subsidiaries’ invested assets and, subject to the non-investment grade investment guidelines, HPS has broad investment discretion. We have delegated to HPS authority to make decisions regarding non-investment grade investments. The current terms of our investment management agreements with HPS end on December 31, 2025, though, subject to certain restrictions set forth in such agreements, either party can terminate the arrangement prior to this date. See “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with HPS.”
The performance of our non-investment grade portfolio depends on the ability of HPS to select and manage appropriate investments. The failure of HPS or any of its key personnel to perform adequately could increase the level of risk to which our investments are exposed and could result in losses or less profitable investments than anticipated, each of which could significantly and negatively affect our business.
Changes to our non-investment grade investment guidelines would require our consent and the consent of Arch and HPS.
Pursuant to the investment management agreements with HPS, changes to the non-investment grade investment guidelines will only be permitted with the mutual consent of Arch, HPS and us. If future changes to our overall underwriting strategy require us to change the non-investment grade investment guidelines, we would be unable to make those changes without the consent of Arch and HPS so long as the investment management agreements with HPS are in effect. Accordingly, we may have to forego opportunities in our underwriting operations that we otherwise may have been able to pursue if we are unable to get the necessary consent or are unable to get the necessary consent in a timely manner.
Our investment management agreements with HPS contain performance fee compensation, which may create incentives that are not aligned with ours, and may adversely affect our financial results.
Pursuant to the investment management agreements with HPS, we are obligated to pay HPS management fees and performance fees. The performance fees may create an incentive for HPS to make investments that are more speculative than would be the case in the absence of such performance fee. HPS may, in its sole discretion, change the allocation of the funds in the non-investment grade portfolio among investments at any time without notifying us, and may be incentivized to allocate capital to investments with greater incentive fee rates.
In addition, compensation arrangements for portfolio managers employed by HPS typically include a performance-based component. These performance-based compensation arrangements may create an incentive for HPS to engage in transactions that focus on the potential for short-term gains rather than long-term growth and those that are more risky or speculative. In addition, since the performance fee is calculated on a basis that includes unrealized appreciation, it may be greater than if it were based solely on realized gains. See “Item 7. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence-Agreements with HPS-Investment management agreements.”
The compensation received by HPS, its principals or its employees with respect to the non-investment grade portfolio may be different from the compensation received with respect to other HPS accounts investing in the same instruments. If the compensation to be received from another HPS account is greater than the compensation received from us, then HPS will have an incentive to favor the other HPS account over ours. Similarly, in instances where certain employees of HPS are responsible for investing assets on behalf of multiple accounts, if the compensation to be received by such employees with respect to certain other HPS accounts is greater than the compensation to be received with respect to the non-investment grade portfolio, then the employees may have an incentive to favor the other HPS accounts, including in the allocation of investment opportunities. To the extent our non-investment grade portfolio and other HPS accounts invest in the same instruments, if another HPS account takes advantage of a trading opportunity, that opportunity may not be available for our non-investment grade portfolio or may not be available at attractive rates or quantities.
Our non-investment grade portfolio may bear performance fees even if we experience a net loss for the corresponding period.
The performance fee payable to HPS is based on interest income and realized and unrealized gains and losses of the non-investment grade portfolio as of the end of the applicable period for which such compensation is calculated.
Because the performance of our non-investment grade portfolio only accounts for a part of our overall performance for any given period, performance fees may be payable to HPS even if we experience no gain or a net loss for that period if expenses or losses (e.g., payments made in satisfaction of insurance or reinsurance claims, or investment losses on the investment grade portfolio) more than offset any positive returns on our non-investment grade portfolio for that period.
We rely upon HPS for calculation of the fees due to HPS under the investment management agreements with HPS despite HPS’s potential conflict.
Although we rely on expert investment industry valuation firms, or Valuation Agents, to provide periodic valuations for the assets and liabilities of our non-investment grade portfolio, pursuant to the investment management agreements with HPS and in accordance with the detailed methodology set forth therein, HPS determines the valuation of the non-investment grade portfolio for purposes of calculation of the management fees and performance fees it receives. In determining such portfolio valuation, if HPS concludes that market prices or quotations or pricing methodologies do not represent the fair value of particular securities or investments or if no quotation exists, HPS is authorized in its good faith discretion to assign a value to such securities or investments. In such cases, if we so request, HPS is required to provide evidence supporting such valuation. Subject to audit verification, for the purpose of fee calculations, the value of our non-investment grade portfolio as determined by HPS is binding on us in the absence of bad faith or manifest error. Because the management fees and performance fees payable to HPS are based on the values that HPS assigned to such investments and the HPS valuation may differ from the valuation calculated by independent sources, a conflict of interest between HPS and us may arise.
Our non-investment grade portfolio investments are subject to higher aggregate transaction costs than those of an investment grade fixed income portfolio, which could reduce our investment returns.
Our non-investment grade portfolio is invested in accordance with the investment strategy described in this registration statement. See “Item 1. Business-Our operations-Investment operations-Non-investment grade portfolio-Investment strategy.” Over time, this investment strategy is likely to involve more active trading than a typical insurer or reinsurer. We incur certain fees and expenses in connection with HPS’s investing of our non-investment grade portfolio, such as for its day-to-day operations, including brokerage commissions and other transaction costs payable to its brokers. Additionally, HPS’s trading decisions may be made on the basis of short-term market considerations. Therefore, the turnover rate of our non-investment grade portfolio could be significant, requiring substantial commissions and fees. We are also obligated to pay or reimburse certain of HPS’s operating, legal, accounting and auditing fees and other expenses related to its management of our non-investment grade portfolio. Payment of these expenses reduces our returns and are payable regardless of whether we realize any profits.
Our non-investment grade portfolio may not achieve the historical results obtained in the past by any HPS-managed investment vehicles or accounts, and a positive return on our non-investment grade portfolio does not necessarily ensure a positive return on an investment in our shares.
Our non-investment grade portfolio has only a limited operating history upon which we or prospective investors can evaluate its anticipated future performance. Past performance is not indicative of future results, and our non-investment grade portfolio may not achieve results
comparable to those that HPS has achieved in the past with a similar investment strategy. Accordingly, potential investors in our shares should draw no conclusions from the prior performance of HPS, its investment professionals or any of its affiliates, and should not expect our non-investment grade portfolio to achieve similar returns. Additionally, because the performance of our non-investment grade portfolio is only one component of our overall performance, a positive return on these investments does not necessarily ensure a positive return on an investment in our shares.
The non-investment grade portfolio may hold non-traditional and complex fixed income and other financial instruments, which exposes us to increased risks and could result in substantial losses to the non-investment grade portfolio and, as a result, to us.
General risks related to debt instruments
The non-investment grade portfolio holds debt instruments, which could result in substantial losses to the portfolio and, as a result, to us. It is anticipated that certain debt instruments held in the non-investment grade portfolio will become non-performing and possibly default. The non-investment grade portfolio may hold debt investments that are secured or unsecured. Unsecured debt investments do not have any collateral supporting the issuer’s obligation to repay the loan. When we invest in unsecured debt, our ability to influence a portfolio company’s affairs, especially during periods of financial distress or following insolvency, is likely to be substantially less than that of senior secured creditors.
Secured debt investments may be subject to the risk that our security interests in the underlying collateral are not properly or fully perfected. Furthermore, the collateral securing debt investments will often be subject to casualty or devaluation risks. If a secured loan is foreclosed, we could become part owner of any collateral, and would bear the costs and liabilities associated with owning and disposing of the collateral. As a result, we may be exposed to losses resulting from default and foreclosure. Any costs or delays involved in the effectuation of a foreclosure of the loan or a liquidation of the underlying assets will further reduce the proceeds and thus increase the loss. There is no assurance that the value of the assets collateralizing a loan will be correctly evaluated. In the event of a reorganization or liquidation proceeding relating to the borrower, all or part of the amounts advanced to the borrower may be lost and any repayment may be significantly delayed. There is no guarantee that the protection of our interests will be adequate, including the validity or to enforceability of the loan and the maintenance of the anticipated priority and perfection of the applicable security interests. Furthermore, claims could be asserted that might interfere with enforcement of our rights.
We may invest in subordinated debt. If a portfolio company defaults on such debt or on debt senior to our investment, or in the event of the bankruptcy of a portfolio company, the investment held by us will be recovered only after the senior debt is repaid in full. Under the terms of typical subordination agreements, senior creditors may be able to block the acceleration of the subordinated debt or the exercise by holders of subordinated debt of other rights they may have as creditors. Accordingly, we may not be able to take the steps necessary or sufficient to protect our investments in a timely manner or at all. If a portfolio company declares bankruptcy, we may not have any recourse to the assets of the portfolio company, or the assets of the portfolio company may not be sufficient to cover our investment. Further, HPS’s ability to amend the terms of our investments, assign the investments, exercise its remedies and control decisions made in bankruptcy proceedings will be limited. The level of risk associated with investments in subordinated debt increases if such investments are in distressed issuers.
Debt held on an assignment or participation basis
The non-investment grade portfolio may hold private and public debt owed by companies on either an assignment or participation basis. When funds in the non-investment grade portfolio are invested on a participation basis with a seller, there is exposure to additional risks that (i) there may be no direct access to the relevant borrower and information provided by the participation seller must be relied upon; (ii) generally there will be no right directly to enforce compliance by the borrower with the terms of the loan agreement, no rights of set-off against the borrower and no right to object to certain changes to the loan agreement agreed to by the participation seller; and (iii) there may be no right to benefit directly from the collateral supporting the related loan and rights of set-off the borrower has against the seller.
As described above, when funds in the non-investment grade portfolio are invested on a participation basis, we may not directly benefit from the collateral supporting the related loan obligation. As a result, we would assume the credit risk of both the obligor and the selling institution, which would remain the legal owner of record of the applicable loan. Participations are typically sold strictly without recourse to the selling institution, and the selling institution will generally make no representations or warranties about the underlying loan, the portfolio companies and the terms of the loans or any collateral securing the loans. Furthermore, certain loans have restrictions on assignments and participations, which may negatively impact our ability to exit from all or part of our investment in a loan.
High yield bonds
The non-investment grade portfolio may hold high yield bonds which are rated in the lower rating categories by the various credit rating agencies. These instruments are subject to greater risk of loss of principal and interest than higher-rated securities and are generally considered to be speculative with respect to the issuers’ capacity to pay interest and repay principal. They are also generally considered to be subject to greater risk than securities with higher ratings in the event of deterioration of general economic conditions. Because investors generally perceive that there are greater risks associated with the lower-rated securities, the yields and prices of such securities may tend to fluctuate more than those of higher-rated securities. The market for lower-rated securities is thinner and less active than that for higher-rated securities, which can adversely affect the prices at which these securities can be sold. In addition, adverse publicity and investor perceptions about lower-rated securities, whether or not based on fundamental analysis, may contribute to a decrease in the value and liquidity of such lower-rated securities.
The non-investment grade portfolio may also hold low-rated or unrated debt securities. Such securities may offer higher yields than higher-rated securities, but may generally involve greater volatility of price, lower liquidity, and risk of principal and income, including the possibility of default by, or bankruptcy of, the issuers of the securities.
Structured credit instruments
The non-investment grade portfolio may hold structured credit instruments, including collateralized debt obligations, collateralized loan obligations, collateralized bond obligations, collateralized mortgage obligations and other similar securities. These may be fixed pools or may be “market value” or managed pools of collateral, including commercial loans, high yield and investment grade debt, structured securities and derivative instruments relating to debt. The pools are typically separated into tranches representing different degrees of credit quality, with lower rated tranches being subordinate to senior tranches. The senior tranches, which represent the highest credit quality in the pool, have the greatest collateralization and pay the lowest spreads over treasuries. Lower-rated tranches represent lower degrees of credit quality and pay higher spreads over treasuries to compensate for the attendant risks. Structured securities are extremely complex and are subject to risks related to, among other things, changes in interest rates, the rate of defaults in the collateral pool, the exercise of redemption rights by more senior tranches, the possibility that a
settlement of a transaction does not take place as expected, the possibility that a transaction proves unenforceable in law, including in bankruptcy, unexpected losses arising from deficiencies in a firm’s management information, support and control systems and procedures and the possibility that a liquid market will not exist for the sale of such structured securities.
Funds in the non-investment grade portfolio may be invested in senior secured loans. These obligations are subject to unique risks, including: (i) the possible invalidation of an investment transaction as a fraudulent conveyance under relevant creditors’ rights laws; (ii) so-called lender-liability claims by the obligor; (iii) environmental liabilities that may arise with respect to collateral securing of the obligations; and (iv) limitations on the ability to directly enforce compliance by the obligor with the terms of the instrument evidencing such loan obligation, or to enforce any rights of set-off against the obligor.
HPS may engage in equity trading in the non-investment grade portfolio that may result in varied returns and could result in substantial losses to that portfolio and, as a result, to us. The value of equity securities generally will vary with the performance of the issuer and movements in the equity markets. As a result, the non-investment grade portfolio may decline in value if the equity securities and equity-like securities of issuers whose performance diverges from HPS’s expectations or if equity markets generally move in a single direction and HPS has not hedged against such a general move.
Under the non-investment grade investment guidelines, which generally provide that our non-investment grade portfolio will primarily be invested in corporate debt instruments, HPS is permitted to hold a portion of its investment objective indirectly through derivatives transactions (each, a Synthetic Asset) effected for the benefit of the non-investment grade portfolio including, without limitation, total return swaps and credit derivatives. These instruments are subject to a maximum per-investment limitation of 10% of the Long Market Value of the non-investment grade portfolio, excluding positions established primarily for hedging purposes which are not subject to a size limitation. Long Market Value refers to the value of the long investments of the portfolio using the methodologies set forth in the applicable investment management agreements.
Each Synthetic Asset references one or more reference obligations or indices, including leveraged loans, high yield bonds, second-lien term loans and other debt financings or securities or indices related thereto (each, a Reference Obligation). Exposure to such Reference Obligations through Synthetic Assets presents risks in addition to those resulting from direct purchases of the securities or investments. A contractual relationship will exist only with a counterparty, and not with any issuer or borrower (each, a Reference Entity) of a Reference Obligation, unless an event of default occurs with respect to any such Reference Obligation, in which event physical settlement applies and the counterparty is required to deliver the Reference Obligation. If delivery of the Reference Obligation is not taken from the counterparty by HPS, there will be no right directly to enforce compliance by the Reference Entity with the terms of any such Reference Obligation and no rights of set-off against the Reference Entity. In the event of the insolvency of the counterparty, we will be treated as a general creditor of the counterparty and will not have any claim of title with respect to the Reference Obligations. Consequently, we will be subject to the credit risk of the counterparty, as well as that of the Reference Entity. As a result, entering into Synthetic Assets and similar transactions subjects us to an additional degree of risk with respect to defaults by the counterparty, as well as by the respective Reference Entities. Such “counterparty risk” is accentuated for contracts with longer maturities where events may intervene to prevent settlement, or where transactions are concentrated with a single counterparty or small group of counterparties. The non-investment grade investment guidelines do not contain restrictions on dealing with any particular counterparty or from concentrating any or all transactions with one counterparty. While the intent is that non-
investment grade portfolio returns in connection with Synthetic Assets will reflect those of each related Reference Obligation, as a result of the terms of the individual Synthetic Asset instruments (including interest and other transaction costs paid to the counterparty) and the assumption of the credit risk of the counterparty, the Synthetic Assets will likely have a different expected return, a different (and potentially greater) probability of default and different expected loss and recovery characteristics following a default. Synthetic Assets are expected to be less liquid and not as tradable as other collateral obligations and may be subject to more variability between their market value and actual sale price of the underlying Reference Obligation than other collateral obligations. In addition, there is no assurance that a buyer will be available or a termination value will be immediately determinable if a Synthetic Asset is sold or terminated. It is expected that any Synthetic Assets in the non-investment grade portfolio will not be able to be transferred without the consent of the applicable counterparty. If market quotations cannot be obtained with respect to a particular Reference Obligation, the termination value of the related transaction may be zero and the value of the entire investment in such Synthetic Asset may be reduced to zero.
We have entered into swap agreements with hedging counterparties based on the Master Agreement published by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc., or ISDA. The ISDA Master Agreement has “events of default” and “termination events” and an unwind methodology that is applicable to both parties. The determination as to whether an “event of default” or “termination event” has occurred is generally made by the relevant ISDA Determinations Committee. All determinations made by ISDA Determinations Committees are governed by the Determinations Committees Rules.
If the relevant ISDA Determinations Committee determines that an “event of default” or “termination event” occurs with respect to either party, the non-defaulting or non-affected party has a right to designate an “early termination date,” and the party will use a standard valuation methodology in the ISDA Master Agreement to determine the termination price for all the Synthetic Assets. Depending upon the market conditions when the early termination date is designated, the unwind price may be zero and the entire investment in such Synthetic Asset may be reduced to zero.
HPS may take advantage of opportunities with respect to certain Synthetic Assets that are not presently contemplated for use or that are currently not available, but that may be developed, to the extent such opportunities are both consistent with the non-investment grade investment guidelines and legally permissible. Special risks may apply to instruments that the funds in the non-investment grade portfolio are invested in at a later date that cannot be determined at this time. For example, risks with respect to credit derivatives may include determining whether an event will trigger payment under the contract and whether such payment will offset the loss or payment due under another instrument. In the past, buyers and sellers of credit derivatives have found that a trigger event in one contract may not match the trigger event in another contract, exposing the buyer or the seller to further risk. Other Synthetic Assets may be subject to various types of risks, including market risk, liquidity risk, the risk of non-performance by the counterparty, including risks related to the financial soundness and creditworthiness of the counterparty, legal risk and operations risk.
In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act creates a regulatory framework for oversight of derivatives transactions by the CFTC and the SEC and modifies the existing regulation of futures markets. It is difficult to predict the ultimate impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and the full extent of the impact it will have on the non-investment grade portfolio is unclear. However, the Dodd-Frank Act contemplates that where appropriate in light of the outstanding risks, trading liquidity and other factors, swaps (broadly defined to include most derivative instruments other than futures) generally will be required to be cleared through a registered clearing facility and traded on a designated exchange or swap execution facility. The derivatives counterparties to the derivative products held by the non-investment grade portfolio may be subject to new capital, margin and business conduct requirements imposed as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act, which may increase the transaction costs
or make it more difficult for the non-investment grade portfolio to hold derivatives investments on favorable terms or at all. See “-Risks related to regulation of us and our operating subsidiaries.”
The trading of over-the-counter derivatives subjects the non-investment grade portfolio to a variety of risks, including: (i) counterparty risk; (ii) basis risk; (iii) interest rate risk; (iv) settlement risk; (v) legal risk; (vi) credit spread risk; and (vii) operational risk. Counterparty risk is the risk that one of the counterparties to the derivative products held by the non-investment grade portfolio might default on its obligation to pay or perform generally on its obligations. Basis risk is the risk attributable to the movements in the spread between the derivative contract price and the future price of the underlying instrument. Interest rate risk is the general risk associated with movements in interest rates. Settlement risk is the risk that a settlement of a transaction does not take place as expected. Legal risk is the risk that a transaction proves unenforceable in law, including, but not limited to, because it has been inadequately documented. Credit spread risk is the general risk associated with movements in credit spreads. Operational risk is the risk of unexpected losses arising from deficiencies in a firm’s management information, support and control systems and procedures. Swaps and other transactions in over-the-counter derivatives may involve other risks as well, including the risk that there may be no exchange market on which to close out an open position. It may be impossible to transfer or otherwise liquidate an existing position, to assess the value of a position or to assess the risk.
HPS may utilize futures and options thereon. Futures markets are highly volatile and are influenced by factors such as changing supply and demand relationships, governmental programs and policies, national and international political and economic events and changes in interest rates. In addition, because of the low margin deposits normally required in futures trading, a high degree of leverage is typical of a futures trading account. As a result, a relatively small price movement in a futures contract may result in substantial losses to the trader. Moreover, exchange-traded futures positions are marked to the market pricing each day and variation margin payments must be paid to or by a trader. Futures trading may also be illiquid, and certain commodity exchanges do not permit trading in particular commodities at prices that represent a fluctuation in price during a single day’s trading beyond certain set limits. If prices fluctuate during a single day’s trading beyond those limits, which conditions have in the past sometimes lasted for several days with respect to certain contracts, HPS could be prevented from promptly liquidating unfavorable positions and thus subject the non-investment grade portfolio and, as a result, us, to substantial losses. In addition, the CFTC and various exchanges impose speculative position limits on the number of positions that investors may directly or indirectly hold or control in particular commodities.
HPS may utilize equity options and non-equity options, including options on futures contracts. Specific market movements of the securities, futures contracts or other instruments underlying an option cannot be predicted accurately. The purchaser of an option is subject to the risk of losing the entire purchase price of the option. The writer of an option is subject to the risk of loss resulting from the difference between the premium received for the option and the price of the futures contract or security underlying the option which the writer must purchase or deliver upon exercise of the option. Trading of options involves risks substantially similar to those involved in trading futures contracts or margined securities, in that options are speculative and highly leveraged. Pursuant to the non-investment grade investment guidelines, HPS may also utilize options on baskets of securities and stock.
The funds in the non-investment grade portfolio may be invested in convertible securities. Because of their embedded equity component, the value of convertible securities is sensitive to changes in equity volatility and price. A decrease in equity volatility and price could result in losses to the non-
investment grade portfolio. The debt characteristics of convertible securities also expose the non-investment grade portfolio to changes in interest rates and credit spreads. The value of the convertible securities may fall when interest rates rise or credit spreads widen. Such exposures may be unhedged or only partially hedged.
Certain of our investments, particularly in the non-investment grade portfolio, are illiquid and are difficult to sell, or to sell in significant amounts at acceptable prices, to generate cash to meet our needs.
Our investments in certain securities and loans, including certain fixed income and structured securities and loans and other investments, may be illiquid due to contractual provisions or investment market conditions. These assets are generally ineligible to be used as collateral for credit facilities, prime brokerage arrangements and letter of credit facilities.
At various times, the markets for investment products held or proposed to be held in the investment portfolios may be “thin” or illiquid, making purchase or sale at desired prices or in desired quantities difficult or impossible, especially in the case of non-publicly traded or illiquid securities such as securities purchased in private placements. While the investment grade portfolio is invested solely in publicly-traded fixed-income securities, funds in the non-investment grade portfolio may be invested in securities of U.S. or non-U.S. open-ended or closed-ended investment companies, partnerships and other collective investment vehicles. Most partnerships and collective investment vehicles provide for redemption of interests only at specified intervals. Consequently, it is not possible to liquidate those interests other than at the specified dates. Additionally, trading restricted and illiquid securities often requires more time and results in higher brokerage charges or dealer discounts, considerably worse pricing and other expenses than does trading eligible securities on national securities exchanges or that are otherwise more liquid. Positions in such restricted or illiquid securities may not readily be able to be exited, including due to contractual prohibitions. Restricted securities may sell at a price lower than similar securities that are not subject to restrictions on resale. Additionally, trading can be suspended as required by an exchange. Each exchange typically has the right to suspend or limit trading in all securities, futures and other instruments that it lists. Such a suspension might render it impossible for the applicable investment manager to liquidate positions and, accordingly, expose one or both of the investment portfolios to losses.
Furthermore, restricted securities held in the non-investment grade portfolio might also have to be registered in order to be disposed of, resulting in additional expense and delay. Adverse market conditions could impede a public offering or listing of securities. If we require significant amounts of cash on short notice in excess of anticipated cash requirements, then we may have difficulty selling these investments in a timely manner or difficulty pledging these assets as collateral to meet counterparty demands or we may be forced to sell or terminate them at unfavorable values.
Use of margin and other forms of financial leverage in the non-investment grade portfolio could result in substantial losses to that portfolio.
HPS uses leverage in managing the non-investment grade portfolio. Leverage may take a variety of forms, including total return swaps and other derivatives, loans for borrowed money, trading on margin and the use of inherently leveraged instruments. Accordingly, a relatively small price movement could have a disproportionately large effect in relation to the capital invested and could result in immediate and substantial losses. Using borrowed money to purchase investments (including through margin loans) provides the non-investment grade portfolio with the advantages of leverage, but exposes it to increased capital risk and higher current expenses. Any gain in the value of securities or investments purchased with borrowed money or income earned from these investments that exceeds interest paid on the amount borrowed would cause the non-investment grade portfolio’s net asset value to increase faster than would otherwise be the case. Conversely, any decline in the value of the securities or investments purchased would cause the non-investment grade portfolio’s net asset value to decrease faster than would otherwise be the case.
We provide collateral to the lenders from which funds are borrowed. This may expose the non-investment grade portfolio to the risk that, for whatever reason, including, without limitation, the default, insolvency, negligence, misconduct or fraud of such lenders, the ownership of such interests may not be reacquired upon the repayment of such loans or we may not otherwise be made whole for any losses. Also, we may forfeit all or a portion of our collateral if we default on such loans. While we have borrowed and intend to borrow only from lenders believed to be creditworthy, recent history underscores the risk that lenders’ creditworthiness could deteriorate extremely rapidly and unexpectedly under certain circumstances and there can be no absolute certainty that such lenders will return such interests to us upon the repayment of such loans.
In certain economic environments, HPS may be unable to obtain the leverage it might otherwise desire to utilize or the financial terms on which leverage is available may be unattractive to HPS in investing the funds in the non-investment grade portfolio.
In addition, in support of our underwriting operations, we may provide letters of credit or other forms of collateral to our clients. In order to provide this collateral, we are required to grant a security interest in a portion of our investment portfolios. Granting such a security interest may impede or limit our ability to obtain additional leverage or meet other collateral demands. Without access to leverage, we may be unable to achieve our investment objectives.
Funds in the non-investment grade portfolio may be used in short sales, which are subject to potential increased regulation and will subject the non-investment grade portfolio to the potential for significant losses.
Funds in the non-investment grade portfolio may be used in short sales, which involve selling securities that are not owned by the short seller, with an obligation to replace those securities at a later date. Short selling allows an investor to profit from a decline in market price to the extent the decline exceeds the transaction costs and the costs of borrowing the securities. A short sale creates the risk of a theoretically unlimited loss, in that the price of the underlying security could theoretically increase without limit, thus increasing the cost to the investor of buying those securities to cover the short position. In certain circumstances, the investor may be unable to maintain the ability to borrow securities that it has sold short, and could be forced to purchase securities at suboptimal prices in the open market to return to the lender. Purchasing securities to close out a short position can itself cause the price of the securities to rise further, thereby exacerbating the loss.
The ability to execute a short selling strategy may be materially adversely impacted by new temporary or permanent rules, interpretations, prohibitions and restrictions. Based in part as a response to adverse market conditions, short sale transactions have been subject to increased regulatory scrutiny, and many jurisdictions recently imposed restrictions and reporting requirements on short selling. Temporary restrictions or prohibitions on short selling activity may be imposed by regulatory authorities with little or no advance notice and may impact prior and future trading activities. Additionally, the SEC, its non-U.S. counterparts, other governmental authorities or self-regulatory organizations may at any time promulgate permanent rules or interpretations consistent with those temporary restrictions or that impose additional or different temporary or permanent limitations, prohibitions or reporting requirements. The various short selling limitations, prohibitions or reporting requirements may not be consistent and may have different effective periods. They may prevent HPS from successfully implementing its investment strategies and may provide transparency to our competitors as to our positions, thereby having a detrimental impact on our investments. We are unable to predict how additional restrictions on short selling may impact the investment methods and strategies with respect to the funds in the non-investment grade portfolio.
In addition, traditional lenders of securities might be less likely to lend securities under certain market conditions. As a result, HPS may not be able to pursue a short selling strategy effectively due
to a limited supply of securities available for borrowing, and may also incur additional costs in connection with short sale transactions.
Funds in the non-investment grade portfolio could be invested in products that could create an exposure to “lender liability” litigation risk, which is a risk that is still evolving and, therefore, difficult to measure.
Recently, several judicial decisions in the United States have upheld the right of borrowers to sue lending institutions, or lender liability. Generally, lender liability is founded upon the premise that an institutional lender has violated an implied or contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing owed to the borrower or has assumed a degree of control over the borrower resulting in a creation of a fiduciary duty owed to the borrower or its other creditors or shareholders. While believed to be unlikely, investments in the non-investment grade portfolio may create exposure to lender liability risk.
Under U.S. legal principles, if a lender or bondholder (i) intentionally takes an action that results in the undercapitalization of a borrower or issuer to the detriment of the borrower’s or issuer’s other creditors; (ii) engages in deceptive conduct or fraud, makes misrepresentations, or breaches fiduciary duties, to the detriment of such creditors; (iii) uses its influence as a stockholder or creditor to dominate or control a borrower or its board of directors or an issuer or its board of directors to the detriment of other creditors of such borrower or issuer; or (iv) engages in other inequitable conduct to the detriment of such other creditors, a bankruptcy court may equitably subordinate the claim of the offending lender or bondholder or, if such claim is assigned by the offending lender or bondholder, a court may subordinate the claim of an assignee. For example, if a lender engaged in wrongful conduct that warrants equitable subordination of its claim against the borrower, and the lender subsequently assigns its claim to us, such claim asserted by us may be equitably subordinated based on the lender’s conduct. Because funds in the non-investment grade portfolio may be invested in several positions in the same, different or overlapping levels of a portfolio company’s capital structure, we may be subject to claims from creditors of a portfolio company that the investments should be equitably subordinated to the payment of other obligations of the portfolio company by reason of our conduct or that of HPS.
In addition, under certain circumstances, a U.S. bankruptcy court could also recharacterize claims held by us as equity interests and thereby subject such claims to the lower priority afforded equity claims in certain restructuring scenarios, or void and subsequently assign the claims, in which case it is possible that we would not be able to enforce the claims against the debtor.
Our non-investment grade portfolio may from time to time hold significant investments in particular securities and loans that could subject us to additional regulatory requirements.
From time to time, the non-investment grade portfolio may invest in significant stakes in particular securities and loans. If that stake exceeds certain percentage or value limits, we may be required to file certain reports with a governmental agency or comply with other regulatory requirements. In many cases, the positions of HPS will be aggregated for purposes of determining the applicability of these limits. Compliance with these filing and other requirements may result in additional costs to us. Certain of these filings are subject to review that may require a delay in the acquisition of the securities or loans. In some cases, we may be required to cease buying or selling the subject security for a specified period and may face potential fines or disgorgement penalties. To avoid or mitigate the potential cost, review or delay in connection with these filings and related regulations, HPS may limit the size of our stake in certain securities or loans. Additionally, large holdings of a publicly traded security may be difficult to rapidly dispose of if such positions would preclude the use of certain exemptions or exceptions from regulation. A need or desire to take limited stakes in certain securities or loans or dispose of securities or loans over an extended period may result in lost investment opportunities, including potentially exposing investment returns to risks of downward movement in market prices, adversely affecting our returns.
Extensive regulation of HPS by governmental organizations creates the potential for disruptive and intrusive investigations, significant liabilities and reputational harm, which could have an adverse effect on our non-investment grade portfolio investments.
HPS’s business is subject to extensive and complex regulation by governmental organizations. The regulatory bodies with jurisdiction over HPS generally have the authority to conduct investigations and administrative proceedings, and to grant or cancel HPS’s authority to carry on its business. HPS is currently registered with the SEC as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended, or the Advisers Act, and thus is subject to the corresponding regulation and oversight. For example, registered investment advisers must comply with enhanced recordkeeping requirements and are subject to the SEC’s inspection authority. These increased obligations may divert HPS’s time, attention and resources from portfolio management activities.
From time to time, HPS is contacted in connection with investigations by regulatory or governmental authorities into certain matters, including trading in particular securities or types of securities by HPS, its affiliates or their employees. Investigations and administrative proceedings can result in fines, disgorgement of profits, suspension of personnel and other sanctions, including censure, the issuance of cease-and-desist orders and the suspension or expulsion from applicable licenses or memberships. For example, failure to comply with the obligations imposed by the Advisers Act, including, to the extent applicable, recordkeeping, advertising and operating requirements, disclosure obligations and prohibitions on fraudulent activities could result in investigations, sanctions and reputational damage, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our investments. See “-Risks related to our investments-Errors or misconduct by employees of our Investment Managers or their third-party service providers could cause significant losses to our investments.”
The non-investment grade investment strategy may be implemented by investing, from time to time, a portion of our non-investment grade portfolio in investment funds managed by HPS.
In order to implement our non-investment grade investment strategy, HPS may, from time to time and upon consultation with us, invest a portion of the portfolio in investment funds managed by HPS. In doing so, we seek to efficiently access the HPS investment platform, but these investments may accrue additional benefits to HPS that do not also accrue to us. In addition, our non-investment grade portfolio’s investment in an HPS fund may make such investment fund more attractive to other investors, for instance, by making such investment fund operationally viable or more financially stable. Consequently, our non-investment grade portfolio’s investment may serve to attract third-party investors, resulting in increased fees and/or incentive allocations from such third-party investors being paid to HPS. While there is no codified limit on the portion of our non-investment grade portfolio that may be invested in funds managed by HPS, we only expect to invest additional assets from our non-investment grade portfolio in funds managed by HPS to the extent that HPS, in consultation with us, determines that such investment would allow us to access an attractive risk profile that would not be available to us outside of a fund framework, or which might provide economic, tax, regulatory or other benefits to us.
Due to the accounting treatment of certain assets in our non-investment grade portfolio, fluctuations in interest rates or changes in credit spreads could result in non-cash balance sheet reductions and non-cash losses in our statement of operations.
We account for certain assets in our non-investment grade portfolio, including our derivative contracts, by applying the mark-to-market accounting treatment required for these assets. We could therefore recognize incremental liabilities between reporting periods resulting from increases or decreases in interest rates or changes in the credit spread environment, which could result in us recognizing a non-cash loss in our consolidated statements of operations and a consequent non-cash decrease in our equity between reporting periods. Any such decrease could be substantial.
We depend upon key personnel employed by HPS to manage our non-investment grade portfolio.
Since we depend upon HPS to manage our non-investment grade portfolio, we depend upon the ability of key personnel of HPS to develop and implement appropriate investment strategies in accordance with the applicable investment guidelines. The diminution or loss of their services could delay or prevent HPS from fully implementing its investment strategy and, consequently, could significantly and negatively affect our results of operations and financial condition. If HPS were to lose the services of key personnel, or if such key personnel failed to devote adequate time and attention to HPS due to its other obligations and business activities or for any other reason, the consequence to HPS and, accordingly, our non-investment grade portfolio, could be material and adverse.
The performance of our non-investment grade portfolio is also highly dependent on the ability of HPS to attract new employees and to retain existing employees.
We could be subject to regulatory restrictions under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 if we were deemed to be an investment vehicle sponsored or managed by HPS.
HPS was originally formed as a unit of Highbridge Capital Management, LLC, or Highbridge, a subsidiary of JPMorgan Asset Management Holdings Inc. In March 2016, the principals of HPS acquired the firm from JPMorgan Asset Management Holdings Inc., which retained Highbridge’s hedge fund strategies. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (which we refer to, together with its affiliates, including JPMorgan Asset Management Holdings Inc., as JPM) is subject to regulation under state and Federal law, including the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended, or the BHCA, and regulations of the Federal Reserve Board. Although HPS is now treated as independent from JPM, for certain purposes under the BHCA, HPS continues to be deemed indirectly controlled by JPM solely for purposes of the BHCA.
Under the U.S. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or the GLBA, enacted in 1999, bank holding companies meeting certain eligibility criteria may elect to become “financial holding companies,” which may engage in any activities that are “financial in nature,” as well as in additional activities that the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Treasury Department determine are financial in nature or incidental or complementary to financial activities. Under the GLBA, “financial activities” specifically include insurance, securities underwriting and dealing, merchant banking, investment advisory and lending activities. JPM elected to become a financial holding company as of March 13, 2000.
Because HPS is treated for certain purposes as indirectly controlled by JPM under the BHCA, investment vehicles that are sponsored or managed by HPS may be deemed to be indirectly “controlled” by JPM for purposes of the BHCA. In the event that such an investment vehicle sponsored or managed by HPS were deemed “controlled,” the investment vehicle’s permissible investments would be limited, including limits on the amount of the investment vehicle’s equity investment in a particular fund or other issuer, and the length of time that the investment vehicle may hold such an investment. During any time that an investment vehicle sponsored or managed by HPS were deemed “controlled,” for purposes of calculating maximum permitted ownership under various statutes, positions held by the investment vehicle would be aggregated with positions held by JPM, entities controlled by JPM and certain accounts managed by affiliates of JPM.
Investment vehicles that are sponsored or managed by HPS are also treated as affiliates of JPM’s banking subsidiaries for purposes of Sections 23A and 23B of the U.S. Federal Reserve Act, as amended. Those sections require that banking subsidiaries of JPM comply with certain standards and restrictions in dealing with their affiliates.
If Watford Re were deemed to be an investment vehicle that was sponsored or managed by HPS, the foregoing limitations and restrictions could be applicable with respect to the management by HPS of our non-investment grade portfolio.
Risks related to regulation of us and our operating subsidiaries
Any suspension or revocation of Watford Re’s license as a Bermuda Class 4 insurer would materially impact our ability to do business and implement our business strategy.
Our main operating subsidiary, Watford Re, is licensed as an insurer and reinsurer only in Bermuda and has been designated as the “designated insurer” for group supervision purposes. Watford Re is a registered Bermuda Class 4 insurer. As such, it is subject to regulation and supervision in Bermuda. Bermuda insurance statutes, regulations and policies of the BMA require Watford Re to, among other things:
maintain minimum levels of capital and surplus;
prescribe and meet solvency standards;
restrict dividends and distributions;
limit transfers of ownership and issuances of shares or changes in control of Watford Holdings, as sole shareholder of Watford Re; and
provide for periodic examinations of Watford Re and Watford Holdings and each entity’s financial condition and the review of actuarial reports related to such examination periods.
These statutes and regulations may, in effect, restrict our ability to write insurance and reinsurance policies, to distribute funds and to pursue our investment strategy.
In addition, the BMA could suspend or revoke Watford Re’s Class 4 license in certain circumstances, including circumstances in which (i) it is shown that false, misleading or inaccurate information has been supplied to the BMA by Watford Re or on its behalf for the purposes of any provision of the Insurance Act 1978, and related rules and regulations, or the Insurance Act; (ii) we have ceased to carry on business; (iii) Watford Re has persistently failed to pay fees due under the Insurance Act; (iv) Watford Re has been shown to have not complied with a condition attached to its registration or with a requirement made of us under the Insurance Act; (v) we are convicted of an offense against a provision of the Insurance Act; (vi) Watford Re is, in the opinion of the BMA, found not to have been carrying on business in accordance with sound insurance principles; or (vii) any of the minimum criteria for registration under the Insurance Act is not or will not have been fulfilled. The suspension or revocation of Watford Re’s license to do business as an insurance company in Bermuda for any reason would negatively impact our reputation in the marketplace and could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. If the BMA suspended or revoked Watford Re’s license, we could also lose our exemption under the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the Investment Company Act, or our ability to rely on an exemption or exclusion under the Investment Company Act. See “-We are subject to the risk of possibly being deemed an investment company under U.S. federal securities law.”
If Watford Re becomes subject to insurance statutes and regulations in jurisdictions other than Bermuda or if there is a change in Bermuda law or regulations or the application of Bermuda law or regulations, there could be a significant and negative impact on our business.
Watford Re, our Bermuda operating subsidiary, is a registered Bermuda Class 4 insurer. As such, it is subject to regulation and supervision in Bermuda. See “Item 1. Business-Regulation-Bermuda insurance regulation.”
Bermuda’s statutes and regulations may restrict our ability to write insurance and reinsurance policies, distribute funds and pursue our investment strategy. We do not presently intend for Watford Re to be admitted to do business in the United States, the United Kingdom or any jurisdiction other than Bermuda. We cannot assure prospective investors that insurance regulators in the United States, the United Kingdom or elsewhere will not review the activities of Watford Re
or its subsidiaries or agents and assert that Watford Re is subject to such jurisdiction’s licensing requirements.
Generally, Bermuda insurance statutes and regulations applicable to Watford Re are less restrictive than those that would be applicable if they were governed by the laws of any states in the United States. If in the future Watford Re became subject to any insurance laws of the United States or any state thereof or of any other jurisdiction, we cannot assure prospective investors that we would be in compliance with such laws or that complying with such laws would not have a significant and negative effect on our business.
The process of obtaining licenses is very time consuming and costly and Watford Re may not be able to become licensed in jurisdictions other than Bermuda should we choose to do so. The modification of the conduct of our business that would result if we were required or chose to become licensed in certain jurisdictions could significantly and negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, our inability to comply with insurance statutes and regulations could significantly and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations by limiting our ability to conduct business, as well as subject us to penalties and fines.
Because Watford Re is a Bermuda company, it is subject to changes in Bermuda law and regulation that may have an adverse impact on our operations, including through the imposition of tax liability or increased regulatory supervision. In addition, Watford Re will be exposed to any changes in the political environment in Bermuda. While we cannot predict the future impact on our operations of changes in the laws and regulations to which we are or may become subject, any such changes could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our non-Bermuda operating insurance subsidiaries are subject to regulation in various jurisdictions, and violations of existing regulations or material changes in the regulation of their operations could adversely affect us.
Our non-Bermuda operating insurance subsidiaries that are not domiciled or licensed in Bermuda are subject to government regulation in each of the jurisdictions in which they respectively are licensed or authorized to do business. Governmental agencies have broad administrative power to regulate many aspects of the insurance business, which may include trade and claim practices, accounting methods, premium rates, marketing practices, claims practices, advertising, policy forms, and capital adequacy. These agencies are concerned primarily with the protection of policyholders rather than shareholders. Governmental agencies may censure us, impose fines, additional capital requirements or limitations on our operations, and/or impose criminal sanctions for violation of regulatory requirements. Moreover, insurance laws and regulations, among other things: (i) establish solvency requirements, including minimum reserves and capital and surplus requirements; (ii) limit the amount of dividends, tax distributions, intercompany loans and other payments our insurance subsidiaries can make without prior regulatory approval; (iii) impose restrictions on the amount and type of investments we may hold; (iv) require assessments through guaranty funds to pay claims of insolvent insurance companies; and (v) require participation in state-assigned risk plans which may take the form of reinsuring a portion of a pool of policies or the direct issuance of policies to insureds.
U.S. operating subsidiaries
Our U.S.-domiciled operating subsidiaries write insurance in the United States. These subsidiaries are subject to extensive regulation under state statutes which delegate regulatory, supervisory and administrative powers to state insurance commissioners. Such regulation generally is designed to protect policyholders rather than investors and may require insurers to maintain certain product offerings even though the insurer prefers to discontinue such writings.
In addition, virtually all U.S. states require insurers licensed to do business therein to bear a portion of contingent and incurred claim handling expenses and the unfunded amount of “covered” claim and unearned premium obligations of impaired or insolvent insurance companies, either up to the policy’s limit, the applicable guaranty fund covered claim obligation cap or 100% of statutorily defined workers’ compensation benefits, subject to applicable deductibles. These obligations are funded by assessments, made on a retrospective, prospective or prefunded basis, which are levied by guaranty associations within the state, up to prescribed limits (typically 2% of “net direct written premium”), on all member insurers in the state on the basis of the proportionate share of the premiums written by member insurers in certain covered lines of business in which the impaired, insolvent or failed insurer was engaged. Accordingly, the total amount of assessments levied on us by the states in which we are licensed to write insurance may increase as we increase our premiums written. In addition, as a condition to the ability to conduct business in certain states (and within the jurisdiction of some local governments), insurance companies are subject to or required to participate in various premium-based or loss-based insurance-related assessments, including mandatory insurance pools, mandatory assigned-risk facilities, underwriting associations, workers’ compensation second-injury funds, reinsurance funds and other state insurance facilities. Although we may be entitled to take premium tax credit (or offsets), recover policy surcharges or include assessments in future premium rate structures for payments we make under these facilities, the effect of these assessments and insurance-related arrangements, or changes in them, could reduce our profitability in any given period or limit our ability to grow our business.
We periodically review our corporate structure so that we can optimally deploy our capital. Changes in that structure require regulatory approval. Delays or failure in obtaining any of these approvals could limit the amount of insurance that we can write in the United States.
Gibraltar operating subsidiary
WICE is subject to substantial regulation in the jurisdictions in which it is licensed or authorized to do business. In addition, the recent U.K. referendum in favor of an exit from the European Union, commonly referred to as “Brexit,” may adversely impact our European operations by limiting or removing WICE’s current ability to flexibly transact insurance business across the borders of European Union members. Alternative avenues to distribute our insurance products in Europe exist but may prove to be more costly and/or less economical, and a reduction in premium writings from Europe would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to the risk of possibly being deemed an investment company under U.S. federal securities law.
In the United States, the Investment Company Act regulates certain companies that invest in, hold or trade securities. Section 3(a)(1)(A) of the Investment Company Act defines an “investment company” as any issuer that is or holds itself out as being engaged primarily in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities. Section 3(a)(1)(C) of the Investment Company Act defines an “investment company” as any issuer that is engaged or proposes to engage in the business of investing, reinvesting, owning, holding or trading in securities and owns or proposes to acquire investment securities having a value exceeding 40% of the value of the issuer’s total assets (exclusive of U.S. federal government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis (the “40% Test”). Excluded from the definition of “investment securities” under Section 3(a)(2) of the Investment Company Act are, among other things, U.S. federal government securities and securities issued by majority-owned subsidiaries that are neither themselves investment companies nor relying on the exception from the definition of investment company set forth in Section 3(c)(1) or Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act. The value of our investment securities, together with any securities issued by our wholly-owned or majority-owned subsidiaries excepted from the definition of investment company pursuant to Section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act will represent less than 40% of the value of our total assets on an unconsolidated basis (exclusive of U.S. federal government securities and cash items). We plan to regularly monitor our
asset pool to ensure continuing and ongoing compliance with the 40% Test. In addition, we are not an investment company under Section 3(a)(1)(A) of the Investment Company Act because we are neither engaged primarily nor do we hold ourselves out as being engaged primarily in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities. Rather, we are primarily engaged in the non-investment company insurance and reinsurance businesses of our direct and indirect subsidiaries, including through Watford Re.
Watford Re currently relies and intends to continue to rely on Rule 3a-6, which is an exemption from the definition of an investment company under the Investment Company Act for an entity organized and regulated as a foreign insurance company that is engaged primarily and predominately in the writing of insurance agreements or the reinsurance of risks on insurance agreements. The law in this area is subjective, and there is a lack of guidance as to the meaning of “primarily and predominately” under Rule 3a-6. For example, there is no standard for the amount of premiums that must be written relative to the level of an entity’s capital in order to qualify for the exemption. If this exemption was deemed inapplicable and no other exemption or exclusion was available, we would likely have to register under the Investment Company Act as an investment company, which, under the Investment Company Act, would require an order from the SEC since we are a non-U.S. domiciled company. Our inability to obtain such an order could have a significant adverse impact on our business.
Registered investment companies are subject to extensive, restrictive and potentially adverse regulation relating to, among other things, operating methods, management, capital structure, leverage, dividends and transactions with affiliates, and are not permitted to operate their businesses in the manner in which we operate our business. In addition, the Investment Company Act generally prohibits registered investment companies from paying performance-based compensation to investment managers (such as HPS). Accordingly, if we are determined to be an investment company required to register under the Investment Company Act, our relationship with HPS, our investments and our operations could be significantly and adversely affected.
Furthermore, if at any time it was established that we had been operating as an investment company in violation of the registration requirements of the Investment Company Act, there would be a risk, among other material adverse consequences, that we could become subject to monetary penalties or injunctive relief, or both; that we could be unable to enforce contracts with third parties; that third parties could seek to obtain rescission of transactions with us undertaken during the period in which it was established that we were an unregistered investment company; or that our insurance license could be revoked or suspended.
To the extent that applicable laws and regulations change in the future so that contracts we write are deemed not to be insurance or reinsurance contracts, we will be at greater risk of not qualifying for an exemption or exclusion for the definition of an investment company under the Investment Company Act. Additionally, it is possible that our becoming classified or required to register as an investment company would result in the suspension or revocation of our insurance or reinsurance licenses.
Bermuda and New Jersey insurance laws regarding the change of control of insurance companies may limit the acquisition of our shares.
Under Bermuda law, for so long as Watford Holdings has an operating subsidiary registered under the Insurance Act, the BMA may at any time object to a person holding 10% or more of our common shares if it appears to the BMA that the person is not or is no longer fit and proper to be such a holder, by written notice to such person. In such a case, the BMA may require the shareholder to reduce its holding of our common shares and direct, among other things, that such shareholder’s voting rights attaching to the common shares shall not be exercisable. A person who does not comply with such a notice or direction from the BMA will be guilty of an offense. This may discourage potential acquisition proposals and may delay, deter or prevent a change of control of
our company, including through transactions, and in particular unsolicited transactions, that some or all of our shareholders might consider to be desirable.
Our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are domiciled in New Jersey, where the acquisition of 10% or more of the voting securities of an insurance company or its parent company is presumptively considered an acquisition of control of the insurance company, although such presumption may be rebutted. Accordingly, any person or entity that acquires, directly or indirectly, 10% or more of our voting securities without the prior approval of the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance will be in violation of these laws and may be subject to injunctive action requiring the disposition or seizure of those securities by the Commissioner or prohibiting the voting of those securities, or to other actions that may be taken by such Commissioner.
The international nature of our business subjects us to additional applicable laws and regulations, the violation of which could adversely affect our operations.
We must comply with all applicable economic sanctions and anti-bribery laws and regulations of the United States and other foreign jurisdictions where we operate, including the U.K. and the European Community. U.S. laws and regulations applicable to us include the economic trade sanctions laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, as well as certain laws administered by the U.S. Department of State. In addition, we are subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-bribery laws such as the U.K. Bribery Act that generally bar corrupt payments or unreasonable gifts to foreign governments or officials. Although we have policies and controls in place that are designed to ensure compliance with these laws and regulations, it is possible that an employee or intermediary could fail to comply with applicable laws and regulations. In such event, we could be exposed to civil penalties, criminal penalties and other sanctions, including fines or other punitive actions. In addition, such violations could damage our business and/or our reputation. Such criminal or civil sanctions, penalties, other sanctions and damage to our business and/or reputation could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, if we or any of our operating subsidiaries were to become subject to the laws of a new jurisdiction in which such entity is not presently admitted to sell insurance products, our company or such subsidiary may not be in compliance with the laws of the new jurisdiction. In addition, we could, at any time and in any jurisdiction, face individual, group and class action lawsuits by our policyholders and others for alleged violations of applicable laws and regulations. Any such litigation or failure to comply with applicable laws could result in the imposition of significant restrictions on our ability to do business and could also result in suspensions, injunctions, monetary damages, fines or other sanctions, any or all of which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Risks related to taxation
Watford Holdings, Watford Re or any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries may be or become subject to U.S. federal income taxation if they are deemed to be conducting a U.S. trade or business.
If Watford Holdings, Watford Re or any of our other non-U.S. subsidiaries were treated as engaged in a trade or business within the United States, such entity would be subject to U.S. federal income taxation on income that is effectively connected with such trade or business and U.S. branch profits tax on its dividend equivalent amount (generally, its after-tax effectively connected income). Based on the past, current and anticipated activities of Watford Holdings, Watford Re and our other non-U.S. subsidiaries, we believe that each of Watford Holdings, Watford Re and our other non-U.S. subsidiaries should not be treated as engaged or as having engaged in a trade or business within the United States. However, there are no definitive standards provided by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, regulations or court decisions as to the specific activities that constitute the conduct of a trade or business within the United States, and any such determination is essentially factual in nature. Therefore, there can be no assurance that the U.S.
Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, will not successfully contend that Watford Holdings, Watford Re, or any other non-U.S. subsidiary is engaged, has been engaged or will be engaged in a trade or business within the United States by reason of such entity’s activities, including its insurance-related activities and its investment activities and any activities performed on such entity’s behalf. Any such U.S. federal income taxation and U.S. branch profits tax would result in substantial tax liabilities and consequently would have a materially adverse effect upon Watford Holdings and Watford Re’s results of operations. Even if Watford Holdings, Watford Re and our non-U.S. subsidiaries are not and have not been engaged in a trade or business within the United States, they will nonetheless be subject to U.S. federal income taxation on certain fixed or determinable annual or periodical gains, profits and income (such as dividends and certain interest on investments) derived from sources within the United States, and could be subject to tax in other jurisdictions in which we operate.
U.S. Holders may be subject to certain adverse tax consequences based on the application of rules regarding passive foreign investment companies, or PFICs.
Significant potential adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences generally apply to any United States person who owns shares in a PFIC. Although not entirely free from doubt due to a lack of directly governing authority, we currently believe that Watford Holdings and Watford Re should not be treated as PFICs because we believe that Watford Re’s income qualifies for an exception to the PFIC rules for income that is derived in the active conduct of an insurance business by a corporation satisfying certain requirements, which we refer to as the Insurance Company Exception. However, because of a lack of clarity regarding the scope of the Insurance Company Exception resulting from recently enacted tax legislation, described further below, there is significant uncertainty as to whether the Insurance Company Exception applies to Watford Holdings and Watford Re. Furthermore, there are no regulations or other definitive authority interpreting certain aspects of the Insurance Company Exception and, in particular, its application to Watford Re’s particular circumstances, including its arrangement with AUL. As a result, the IRS could seek to characterize Watford Holdings and Watford Re as PFICs. Because of the lack of clarity regarding the Insurance Company Exception, we can provide no assurances that the IRS will not seek to treat Watford Holdings and Watford Re as PFICs.
The United States Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the TCJA, which was enacted into law in December of 2017, modified certain aspects of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, including a number of provisions that impact insurance companies. In particular, the TCJA modified the Insurance Company Exception so that, with respect to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, only a “qualifying insurance corporation” is eligible for the exception. The TCJA generally defines a qualifying insurance corporation as a foreign corporation that would be subject to U.S. federal income tax as an insurance company if it were a domestic corporation and whose “applicable insurance liabilities” constitute more than 25% of the company’s total assets, determined on the basis of a financial statement of the company that meets certain requirements.
Applicable insurance liabilities for a property and casualty company are generally defined to include loss and loss adjustment expenses. There is a lack of clarity regarding whether this reference to “loss and loss adjustment expenses” in the TCJA refers to loss and loss adjustment expenses paid in the relevant year or the company’s reserves representing liabilities for loss and loss adjustment expenses relating to unpaid claims. Because the TCJA uses the term in the context of defining “applicable insurance liabilities,” and because the Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the conference committee report of the TCJA indicates that the term “applicable insurance liabilities” is intended to include reserves for property and casualty insurance contracts, Watford Holdings believes that the reference to loss and loss adjustment expenses should be understood as a reference to a company’s reserves and intends to apply the requirement in this manner. However, there can be no assurance that the IRS will agree with Watford Holdings’ interpretation of the Insurance Company Exception, and, if the IRS were to successfully challenge such interpretation, Watford Holdings and Watford Re would likely be treated as PFICs.
In addition, the application of the TCJA’s definition of “qualifying insurance corporation” is not clear in other respects. For example, the PFIC rules include a look-through rule under which a foreign corporation that owns 25% or more of the stock of another corporation is generally treated as directly holding its proportionate share of the assets and directly recognizing its proportionate share of the income of the second corporation for purposes of determining if the first corporation is a PFIC. It is not entirely clear how this look-through rule interacts with the definition of a qualifying insurance corporation, and in particular whether companies within a corporate group must individually satisfy the requirements to be treated as qualifying insurance corporations or whether the group must satisfy these requirements on an aggregate basis after applying the look-through rule. As a result of these uncertainties, it is possible that the IRS could apply the qualifying insurance corporation test in a manner that could adversely impact Watford’s qualification for the Insurance Company Exception.
As a result, although we believe that Watford Holdings and Watford Re should meet the requirements to be treated as qualifying insurance corporations, no assurance can be provided that the IRS will not successfully challenge this qualification, in which case such companies would be treated as PFICs. If Watford Holdings and Watford Re are treated as PFICs, U.S. shareholders would also be subject to the PFIC regime with respect to any other non-U.S. subsidiary of Watford Holdings that is treated as a PFIC. Moreover, the TCJA contemplates that the IRS will provide additional guidance on the application of the qualifying insurance company requirement, and it is possible that any forthcoming guidance issued by the IRS could adversely impact Watford Holdings’ or Watford Re’s eligibility for the Insurance Company Exception.
Furthermore, the TCJA did not clarify certain significant issues regarding the requirements for a company to satisfy the Insurance Company Exception. In particular, there is no currently effective guidance clarifying when an insurance company is treated engaged in the active conduct of an insurance business. In April 2015, the IRS issued proposed Treasury Regulations, or the Proposed Regulations, that, if finalized in their current form, would adversely impact the ability of Watford Holdings and Watford Re to qualify for the Insurance Company Exception.
As a result of these uncertainties regarding the application of the PFIC rules to Watford Holdings and the possibility of future guidance, Watford Holdings and Watford Re may take certain actions that they otherwise would not take in order to avoid being treated as PFICs. For example, if Watford Re does not write a sufficient level of insurance, we could distribute capital that would otherwise be retained and invested in order to reduce the risk that Watford Holdings or Watford Re could be classified as a PFIC.
Prospective investors are urged to consult their own tax advisors to assess their tolerance of the risk that Watford Holdings or Watford Re will be classified as PFICs.
If Watford Holdings and Watford Re are classified as PFICs, a U.S. Holder (as defined below) generally will be subject to a special tax and an interest charge upon the sale of its shares or receipt of an “excess distribution” with respect to its shares, in addition to other adverse tax consequences. A U.S. Holder is a beneficial owner of our shares that, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, is:
an individual who is a citizen or resident of the United States;
a corporation or other entity taxable as a corporation created or organized under the laws of the United States, any state thereof or the District of Columbia;
an estate, the income of which is subject to U.S. federal income taxation regardless of the source; or
a trust, if a court within the United States is able to exercise primary supervision over the trust’s administration and one or more “United States persons” (within the meaning of Section 7701(a)(30) of the Code) have the authority to control all of its substantial decisions, or if a valid election to be treated as a United States person is in effect with respect to such trust.
Such adverse tax consequences to U.S. Holders of shares of stock in a PFIC may be mitigated if such shareholder is able to make: (i) a timely qualified electing fund election with respect to our shares (a “QEF election”); or (ii) a mark-to-market election with respect to the first taxable year in which such entity is determined to be a PFIC during the U.S. Holder’s holding period in our shares. The availability of these elections is uncertain as a matter of law and, in certain cases, requires us to provide certain information to our shareholders. In addition, shareholders may be required to make certain filings in order to preserve their ability to make the QEF election on a retroactive basis if it is believed that a company is not a PFIC but it is later determined that the company is a PFIC. Shareholders should consult with their tax advisors regarding these elections.
We expect to monitor our activities and the activities of our subsidiaries with a view towards concluding whether Watford Holdings is a PFIC, and will notify our shareholders annually of whether we believe that Watford Holdings is likely to be treated as a PFIC. In addition, we intend to provide shareholders upon request with any identifying information about our subsidiaries that is reasonably required for shareholders to file a protective statement preserving their right to make a retroactive QEF election with respect to such subsidiaries. If we conclude in any year that Watford Holdings is likely to be treated as a PFIC, we intend to provide to our shareholders the information required by them to make a QEF election with respect to Watford Holdings, Watford Re or, as applicable, any direct or indirect controlled subsidiary of Watford Holdings or Watford Re that also may be a PFIC. Furthermore, Watford Holdings, Watford Re, or its direct or indirect subsidiaries may make investments in other entities that are treated as PFICs with respect to a U.S. Holder, such as a fund or portfolio investment that is itself classified as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If we conclude in any year that Watford Holdings is likely to be treated as a PFIC, we intend to use commercially reasonable efforts to cause any such lower-tier PFICs to provide information that is necessary for U.S. Holders to make a separate QEF election with respect to such entity. However, if we do not control any such lower-tier PFIC, we may not be able to cause such entity to provide such information, in which case a QEF election with respect to such entity generally will not be available.
Certain U.S. Holders may be subject to adverse tax consequences if Watford Holdings, Watford Re, or any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries is treated as a controlled foreign corporation, or a CFC and such U.S. Holder is treated as a 10% U.S. Shareholder of such CFC.
Our prospective investors should be aware that Watford Holdings, Watford Re and any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries could each be treated as a CFC. As a result, any United States person that owns 10% or more (directly, indirectly or constructively, as determined for U.S. federal income tax purposes) of the total combined voting power or the total value of all classes of stock of Watford Holdings, Watford Re or any other non-U.S. subsidiary, or that is a partner in a U.S. partnership that owns such stock, or a U.S. 10% Shareholder, could be required to include in income, on a current basis (whether or not distributed), its pro rata share of the “subpart F income” and certain other categories of income of Watford Holdings, Watford Re or any such subsidiary. The TCJA made certain changes to the U.S. federal income tax laws regarding CFCs. In particular, the TCJA (i) expanded the definition of a U.S. 10% Shareholder to include shareholders that own 10% or more of the CFC by value, in addition to shareholders that own more than 10% of the CFC by vote, and (ii) broadened the attribution rules that apply in determining if a person is a U.S. 10% Shareholder and if a company is a CFC. These changes to the CFC rules generally make it more likely that a company will be treated as a CFC, and as a result there is a significant likelihood that Watford Holdings and its non-U.S. subsidiaries will be treated as CFCs under these provisions. Although we have structured our ownership with certain voting limitation provisions that were intended to reduce the risk that U.S. Holders would be treated as U.S. 10% Shareholders under the CFC rules in existence prior to the TCJA, as described in “Item 11. Description of Registrant’s Securities To Be Registered-Description of Share Capital-Common shares,” “-Preference shares,” and “-Common shares-Voting rights,” under the currently applicable CFC rules these voting limitations do not prevent a U.S. Holder from being treated as a U.S. 10% Shareholder if the U.S. Holder owns 10% or more of our stock by value, directly, indirectly, or constructively. Prospective investors are urged to
consult their own tax advisors regarding the potential consequences if a U.S. Holder or any person related to that holder is treated as a U.S. 10% Shareholder of Watford Holdings, Watford Re or any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries.
U.S. Holders could be subject to adverse tax consequences under the related person insurance income, or RPII, rules.
If Watford Holdings, Watford Re or any other non-U.S. subsidiary is treated as recognizing RPII in a taxable year and such company is treated as a CFC for purposes of the RPII rules, each U.S. person that holds Watford Holdings shares (even one share) directly or indirectly through non-U.S. entities as of the last day in such taxable year must generally include in gross income (whether or not distributed) its pro rata share of such RPII determined as if the RPII were distributed proportionately only to all such U.S. persons (with certain adjustments). For this purpose, a non-U.S. company is treated as a CFC if U.S. persons in the aggregate own, directly or indirectly, 25% or more of the total voting power or value of such company at any time during the taxable year. RPII generally includes any income of a non-U.S. corporation attributable to insuring or reinsuring risks of a U.S. person that owns, directly, indirectly or constructively, stock of such non-U.S. corporation, or risks of a person that is related to such a U.S. person. For this purpose, (1) a person is related to another person if such person controls, or is controlled by, such other person, or if both are controlled by the same persons, and (2) “control” of a corporation means ownership (or deemed ownership) of stock possessing more than 50% of the total voting power or value of such corporation’s stock and “control” of a partnership, trust or estate for U.S. federal income tax purposes means ownership (or deemed ownership) of more than 50% by value of the beneficial interests in such partnership, trust or estate. We believe that it is likely that Watford Re and each non-U.S. subsidiary have met certain de minimis safe harbors and therefore have not been subject to RPII rules. However, no assurance can be provided that Watford Holdings, Watford Re or any of their non-U.S. subsidiaries will qualify for these safe harbors, and accordingly we cannot assure prospective investors that the RPII rules will not apply to them. Prospective investors should consult with their own tax advisors regarding the potential risk of RPII inclusions as a result of an investment in Watford Holdings.
Tax-exempt U.S. Holders may recognize unrelated business taxable income in respect of their ownership of our common shares.
A tax-exempt U.S. Holder may recognize unrelated business taxable income if a portion of the subpart F insurance income of Watford Re or any other non-U.S. subsidiary is allocated to such organization. In general, subpart F insurance income will be allocated to a tax-exempt U.S. Holder if either (i) Watford Re or any non-U.S. subsidiary is a CFC and the tax-exempt U.S. Holder is a U.S. 10% Shareholder of such company, or (ii) there is RPII and certain exceptions do not apply.
Prospective tax-exempt investors should consult with their own tax advisors regarding the potential risk of unrelated business taxable income as a result of an investment in Watford Holdings.
Changes in U.S. federal tax laws, which may be retroactive, including the finalization of proposed Treasury Regulations, could occur after the initial listing of our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Market and could subject Watford Holdings, Watford Re or U.S. Holders to U.S. federal income taxation on the earnings of Watford Holdings, Watford Re or our subsidiaries or could otherwise adversely impact Watford Holdings and its subsidiaries or shareholders.
The tax laws and interpretations regarding whether a company is engaged in a U.S. trade or business, whether a company is a PFIC (including whether it qualifies for the Insurance Company Exception) or whether a company is a CFC earning subpart F income or RPII, are subject to change, possibly on a retroactive basis. In particular, the TCJA included various provisions that impact the U.S. federal income taxation of insurance companies and their shareholders, and forthcoming guidance issues by the IRS, including regarding the scope of the Insurance Company Exception, could adversely impact the taxation of such persons. Furthermore, there are no regulations currently in effect regarding the application of the PFIC rules to an insurance company, and it is
possible that the IRS may issue new regulations or pronouncements interpreting or clarifying such rules. The IRS previously announced that it intends to scrutinize the activities of purported insurance companies organized outside of the United States, including insurance companies that invest a significant portion of their assets in alternative investment strategies, and will apply the PFIC rules where it determines that a non-U.S. corporation is not an insurance company for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Moreover, the IRS has issued the Proposed Regulations, that, if finalized in their current form, could adversely impact the ability of Watford Holdings and Watford Re to qualify for the Insurance Company Exception. As a result, the IRS may release guidance interpreting the TCJA’s changes to the Insurance Company Exception, finalize the Proposed Regulations or release other guidance that could adversely impact the ability of Watford Holdings and Watford Re to qualify for the Insurance Company Exception. Such guidance could apply on either a prospective or retroactive basis. It is also possible that the U.S. Congress could pass additional legislation that impacts the taxation of Watford Holdings and its subsidiaries and shareholders.
We are not able to predict if and when the Proposed Regulations will be finalized, if, when or in what form any additional guidance will be provided by the IRS, or whether any such guidance will have a retroactive effect. If Watford Holdings’ and Watford Re’s organization and operations do not satisfy the requirements imposed by the Insurance Company Exception as modified by further TCJA guidance, the Proposed Regulations when finalized or any other IRS guidance, Watford Holdings and Watford Re could be required to modify their organization and operations in order to qualify for the Insurance Company Exception in light of such IRS guidance. There is no assurance that Watford Holdings or Watford Re will successfully implement such modifications in all circumstances. As a result, even if Watford Holdings and Watford Re satisfy the Insurance Company Exception under current law upon the initial listing of our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Market, it is possible that Watford Holdings and Watford Re could be treated as PFICs under forthcoming IRS guidance. Prospective investors are urged to consult their own tax advisors in assessing their tolerance of this risk.
The operations of our U.S. subsidiaries could be adversely impacted by the U.S. base erosion and anti-abuse tax.
The TCJA imposed a new base erosion and anti-abuse tax, or the BEAT, with respect to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. The BEAT generally imposes a minimum tax on U.S. taxpayers that make certain deductible payments to non-U.S. affiliates, including premiums paid by U.S. taxpayers for reinsurance that reduce the gross premiums taxable to them. As a result, the BEAT could significantly increase the effective U.S. tax rate on our U.S. subsidiaries as a result of the provision of reinsurance by certain of our non-U.S. subsidiaries to such U.S. subsidiaries. The BEAT only applies to corporate groups whose U.S. operations generate $500 million in gross revenues on average over the preceding three years, and Watford Holdings does not currently expect its U.S. subsidiaries to exceed this threshold in the current year. As a result, Watford Holdings does not expect the BEAT to apply to its U.S. subsidiaries at the present time. However, as the operations of Watford Holdings’ U.S. subsidiaries continue to expand, such subsidiaries may become subject to the BEAT, which could reduce the ability of such companies to enter into affiliate reinsurance transactions without a significant increase in the U.S. federal income tax liabilities of such subsidiaries.
Information may be required to ensure compliance with FATCA.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, imposes a withholding tax of 30% on (i) U.S.-source interest, dividends and certain other types of income, and (ii) the gross proceeds from the sale or disposition of assets which produce such types of income, which are received by a foreign financial institution, or FFI (as a beneficial owner or an intermediary), unless such FFI enters into an agreement with the IRS to obtain certain information as to the identity of the direct and indirect owners of accounts in such institution and satisfies certain other requirements.
Alternatively, a 30% withholding tax may be imposed on the above payments to certain non-financial foreign entities, or NFFEs (as a beneficial owner or an intermediary), which do not (i) certify to each respective withholding agent that they have no “substantial U.S. owners” (i.e., a U.S. 10% direct or indirect shareholder), or (ii) provide such withholding agent with the certain information as to the identity of such substantial U.S. owners.
Withholding on U.S.-source interest, dividends and certain other types of income applies currently, and withholding on gross proceeds will apply beginning on January 1, 2019.
We believe and take the position that we are an NFFE and not an FFI. However, because such a determination depends in part on our future operations, no assurance can be given that the IRS would not assert, or that a court would not uphold, a different characterization of our FATCA status.
The United States has negotiated intergovernmental agreements, or IGAs, to implement FATCA with a number of jurisdictions. Bermuda has entered into a “Model 2” IGA, or the Bermuda IGA, with the United States.
We have complied and intend to continue to comply with the Bermuda IGA and/or FATCA, as applicable, and to report all necessary information regarding substantial U.S. owners to the relevant authority. Any substantial U.S. owner will be required to provide such identifying information as is required to enable the company to comply. Shareholders who fail to provide such information could be subject to: (i) bearing the cost of the withholding tax burden imposed on us as a result of such shareholders’ failure to furnish the required information; (ii) a forced sale of their shares; or (iii) a redemption of their shares.
Should we determine that we are an FFI under the Bermuda IGA, we will be directed to register with the IRS and will be required to comply with the requirements of FATCA and will report all necessary information regarding all U.S. Holders of our shares. Assuming registration and compliance with the terms of an agreement with the IRS pursuant to the Bermuda IGA, an FFI generally would be treated as FATCA-compliant and not subject to withholding. An FFI that satisfies the eligibility, information reporting and other requirements of the Bermuda IGA will not generally be subject to the regular FATCA reporting and withholding obligations discussed above.
Prospective investors are urged to consult their own tax advisors as to the filing and information requirements that may be imposed on them in respect of their ownership of our shares.
Watford Holdings or Watford Re may become subject to taxation in Bermuda after March 31, 2035, which would have a significant and negative effect on Watford Holdings and Watford Re’s business and results of operations.
At the present time, there is no Bermuda income or profits tax, withholding tax, capital gains tax, capital transfer tax, estate duty or inheritance tax payable by Watford Holdings or Watford Re or by our shareholders in respect of our shares. We have obtained an assurance from the Minister of Finance of Bermuda under the Exempted Undertakings Tax Protection Act 1966 that, in the event that any legislation is enacted in Bermuda imposing any tax computed on profits or income, or computed on any capital asset, gain or appreciation or any tax in the nature of estate duty or inheritance tax, such tax will not, until March 31, 2035, be applicable to us or to any of our operations or to our shares, debentures or other obligations except insofar as such tax applies to persons ordinarily resident in Bermuda or is payable by us in respect of real property owned or leased by us in Bermuda. The same assurance has been obtained with respect to Watford Re. Given the limited duration of any assurance by the Minister of Finance, neither Watford Holdings nor Watford Re can be certain that it will not be subject to any Bermuda taxes after March 31, 2035. Watford Holdings’ and Watford Re’s business and results of operations would be significantly and negatively affected if either of them were to become subject to taxation in Bermuda.
The impact of Bermuda’s commitment to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to eliminate harmful tax practices is uncertain and could adversely affect Watford Holdings’ or Watford Re’s tax status in Bermuda.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or the OECD, has published reports and launched a global dialogue among member and non-member countries on measures to limit harmful tax competition. These measures are largely directed at counteracting the effects of tax havens and preferential tax regimes in countries around the world. According to the OECD, Bermuda is a jurisdiction that has substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard and as such is listed on the OECD “white list.” However, neither Watford Holdings nor Watford Re is able to predict whether any changes will be made to this classification or whether any such changes will subject Watford Holdings or Watford Re to additional taxes.
We may become subject to increased taxation in Bermuda and other countries as a result of the OECD’s plan on “base erosion and profit shifting.”
The OECD, with the support of the G20, initiated the “base erosion and profit shifting,” or BEPS, project in 2013 in response to concerns that international tax standards have not kept pace with changes in global business practices and that changes are needed to international tax laws to address situations where multinationals may pay little or no tax in certain jurisdictions by shifting profits away from jurisdictions where the activities creating those profits may take place. In October 2015, the OECD issued “final reports” in connection with the BEPS project. The final reports have been approved for adoption by the G20 finance ministers in November 2015. The final reports provide the basis for international standards for corporate taxation that are designed to prevent, among other things, the artificial shifting of income to tax havens and low-tax jurisdictions, the erosion of the tax base through interest deductions on intercompany debt and the artificial avoidance of permanent establishments (i.e., tax nexus with a jurisdiction). The measures also contemplate the development of a multilateral instrument to incorporate and facilitate changes to tax treaties. The multilateral instrument has since been negotiated and agreed by over 100 participating states. Furthermore, in addition to the final reports, the OECD has also published further guidance on interest deductibility and country by country reporting (in December 2016) and a discussion draft on the attribution of profits to permanent establishments (in October 2015).
Legislation to adopt these standards has been enacted or is currently under consideration in a number of jurisdictions to implement these standards, including country by country reporting. As a result, our income may be taxed in jurisdictions where it is not currently taxed and at higher rates of tax than currently taxed, which may substantially increase our effective tax rate. Also, the adoption of these standards may increase the complexity and costs associated with tax compliance and adversely affect our financial position and results of operation.
We may become subject to the proposed financial transactions tax.
On February 14, 2013, the European Commission published the Commission’s Proposal, a proposal for a Directive for a common financial transactions tax, or FTT, in Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia (the participating Member States). However, Estonia has since stated that it will not participate. The Commission’s Proposal has very broad scope and could, if introduced, apply to certain dealings in shares (including secondary market transactions) in certain circumstances.
Under the Commission’s Proposal, the FTT could apply in certain circumstances to persons both within and outside of the participating Member States. Generally, it would apply to certain dealings in shares where at least one party is a financial institution, and at least one party is established in a participating Member State. A financial institution may be, or be deemed to be, “established” in a participating Member State in a broad range of circumstances, including (a) by transacting with a person established in a participating Member State or (b) where the financial instrument which is subject to the dealings is issued in a participating Member State. However, the FTT proposal remains
subject to negotiation between the participating Member States. It may therefore be altered prior to any implementation, the timing of which remains unclear. Additional EU Member States may decide to participate.
Prospective holders of shares are advised to seek their own professional advice in relation to the FTT.
We may become subject to the U.K. diverted profits tax.
The U.K. Diverted Profits Tax, or the DPT, which was introduced in 2015, generally applies where (a) a non-U.K. company carrying on an activity in the U.K. structures its affairs so as to avoid a U.K. taxable presence; or (b) a company which is taxable in the U.K. creates a tax advantage by means of transactions which have insufficient economic substance. The corresponding “diverted profits” are subject to U.K. tax at 25%. The precise effect of the DPT is still unclear and subject to a number of uncertainties. As a result, there can be no assurance that we will not be subject to additional tax as a result of the DPT.
Changes in tax laws could adversely affect the business of Watford Holdings and Watford Re.
Watford Holdings and Watford Re are subject to extensive tax laws and regulations. New tax laws and regulations and changes in existing tax laws and regulations are continuously being enacted that could result in increased tax expenditures in the future. Many of these tax liabilities are subject to audits by the respective taxing authorities. These audits may result in additional taxes as well as interest and penalties.
Risks related to our common shares
We are a holding company with no significant operations or assets other than our ownership of our four operating subsidiaries and we depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to meet our ongoing cash requirements.
We are a holding company and do not have any significant operations or assets other than our four operating subsidiaries. Generally, we depend on our available cash resources, liquid investments and dividends or other distributions from our subsidiaries to make payments, including the payment of debt service obligations and operating expenses we may incur and any payments of dividends, redemption amounts or liquidation amounts with respect to our preference shares and common shares and to fund any share repurchase program our board of directors might determine to institute. Dividends and other permitted distributions from our subsidiaries will be our primary, if not only, source of funds to meet ongoing cash requirements, including general corporate expenses. The ability of our subsidiaries to declare and pay dividends is subject to regulatory restrictions and could be constrained by our dependence on financial strength ratings from independent rating agencies.
The declaration and payment of dividends by Bermuda-regulated entities are limited under Bermuda law. Watford Re would be prohibited from declaring or paying dividends if it were in breach of its enhanced capital requirement, or ECR, minimum solvency margin or minimum liquidity ratio or if the declaration or payment of such dividend would cause such a breach. Where an insurer fails to meet its minimum solvency margin or minimum liquidity ratio on the last day of any financial year, it is prohibited from declaring or paying any dividends during the next financial year without the approval of the BMA in its absolute discretion. Further, unless it files with the BMA an affidavit stating that it will continue to meet its minimum solvency margin and minimum liquidity ratio as required by the Insurance Act, Watford Re is prohibited from declaring or paying in any financial year dividends of more than 25% of its total statutory capital and surplus (as shown on its previous financial year’s statutory balance sheet). Watford Re will be required to obtain the BMA’s prior approval for a reduction by 15% or more of the total statutory capital as set forth in its previous year’s financial statements.
Our U.S. and Gibraltar insurance subsidiaries are subject to similar insurance laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which they operate. The ability of these insurance subsidiaries to pay dividends or make distributions is also dependent on their ability to meet applicable regulatory standards.
Each of our respective A.M. Best and KBRA ratings also depends to a large extent on the capitalization levels of our operating subsidiaries. The inability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends in an amount sufficient to enable us to meet any cash requirements at the holding company level could have an adverse effect on our ability to meet our obligations.
Our common shares have no prior public market, an active trading market may not develop or continue to be liquid and the market price of our common shares may be volatile.
We expect our common shares to be listed and traded on the NASDAQ Global Market. Prior to the listing on the NASDAQ Global Market, there has not been a public market for our common shares, and an active market for our common shares may not develop or be sustained after the listing, which could depress the market price of our common shares and could affect the ability of our shareholders to sell their shares. In the absence of an active public trading market, investors may not be able to liquidate their investments in our common shares. An inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling our common shares, our ability to motivate our employees through equity incentive awards and our ability to acquire other companies, products or technologies by using our common shares as consideration. In addition, we cannot predict the prices at which our common shares may trade on the NASDAQ Global Market following the listing of our common shares, and the market price of our common shares may fluctuate significantly in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. The stock markets have from time to time experienced extreme volatility that has been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. These broad market fluctuations may adversely affect the trading price of our common shares. In addition to the factors discussed elsewhere in this registration statement, the factors that could affect our share price are:
general market conditions;
domestic and international economic factors unrelated to our performance;
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly operating results, including as a result of catastrophes or our investment performance;
changes in or failure to meet publicly disclosed expectations as to our future financial performance;
changes in securities analysts’ estimates of our financial performance or lack of research and reports by industry analysts;
action by institutional shareholders or other large shareholders, including future sales;
speculation in the press or investment community;
investor perception of us and our industry;
changes in market valuations or earnings of similar companies;
announcements by us, our service providers or our competitors of significant products, contracts, acquisitions or strategic partnerships;
any future sales of our common shares or other securities;
potential characterization of us or any of our subsidiaries as a PFIC;
regulatory developments; and
additions or departures of key personnel.
Furthermore, all common shares beneficially owned by persons who are not our affiliates and have beneficially owned such shares for at least one year may be sold immediately after our initial listing on the NASDAQ Global Market by these existing shareholders in accordance with Rule 144 of the Securities Act. However, there can be no assurance that any of these existing shareholders will sell any or all of their common shares and there may initially be a lack of supply of, or demand for, our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Market. In the case of a lack of supply of our common shares offered in the market, the trading price of our common shares may rise to an unsustainable level, particularly in instances where institutional investors may be discouraged from purchasing our common shares because they are unable to purchase a block of our common shares in the open market due to a potential unwillingness of our existing shareholders to sell the amount of common shares at the price offered by such investors and the greater influence individual investors have in setting the trading price. In the case of a lack of market demand for our common shares, the trading price of our common shares could decline significantly and rapidly after our listing.
In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, class action litigation has often been instituted against such company. Any litigation of this type brought against us could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our management’s attention and resources, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish misleading or unfavorable research about our business, our share price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common shares will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. We do not currently have and may never obtain research coverage by securities and industry analysts. If there is limited or no coverage of our company by securities or industry analysts, the trading price for our shares would be negatively impacted. In the event we obtain securities or industry analyst coverage or if one or more of these analysts downgrades our shares or publishes misleading or unfavorable research about our business, our share price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our shares could decrease, which could cause our share price or trading volume to decline.
Future sales of shares by existing shareholders could cause our share price to decline.
Sales of substantial amounts of our common shares in the public market following the listing of our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our common shares to decline. As of the date of this registration statement, we had 22,682,875 issued and outstanding common shares. The 22,682,875 common shares issued and outstanding as of the date of this registration statement will be restricted securities within the meaning of Rule 144 under the Securities Act, but will be eligible for resale subject to applicable volume, manner of sale, holding period and other limitations of Rule 144. Moreover, following the listing of our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Market, there will be outstanding warrants to purchase an aggregate of 1,704,691 common shares, at an exercise price of $75.24 per share as of September 30, 2018, and an aggregate of 907,315 common shares reserved for future grant or issuance under the 2018 Incentive Plan.
After this registration statement becomes effective, we intend to file one or more registration statements under the Securities Act to register the common shares to be issued under the 2018 Incentive Plan and, as a result, all common shares acquired upon vesting or exercise of awards granted under the 2018 Incentive Plan would also be freely tradable under the Securities Act, unless acquired by our affiliates.
Certain existing holders of our common shares and warrants have registration rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering the sale of their shares or to
include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other shareholders in the future. In the event that we register the common shares for the holders of registration rights, they can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance.
Under Bermuda law, members of the board of directors are permitted to participate in decisions in which they have interests.
Under Bermuda law, directors are not required to recuse themselves from voting on matters in which they have an interest. Our directors may have interests that are different from, or in addition to, the interests of our shareholders. So long as our directors disclose their interests in a matter under consideration by the board of directors in accordance with Bermuda law, they will be entitled to participate in the deliberation on and vote in respect of that matter.
The share voting limitations that are contained in our bye-laws may result in our shareholders having fewer voting rights than a shareholder would otherwise have been entitled to based upon such shareholder’s economic interest in our company.
Our bye-laws provide that any person owning more than 9.9% of the issued and outstanding shares will be limited to voting (directly, indirectly or constructively, as determined for U.S. federal income tax purposes) that number of shares equal to 9.9% of the total combined voting power of all classes of shares entitled to vote, unless the voting restriction with respect to such holder is waived by the board of directors. Because of the constructive ownership provisions of the Code, this requirement may have the effect of reducing the voting rights of an investor whether or not that investor directly, indirectly or constructively holds of record more than 9.9% of our common shares. Further, the board of directors has the authority to request certain information from any investor for the purpose of determining whether that investor’s voting rights are to be reduced. Failure by an investor to respond to such a notice, or submission by such investor of incomplete or inaccurate information, would give the board of directors discretion to disregard all votes attached to such investor’s shares.
We may want or need additional capital in the future, which may not be available to us on satisfactory terms, if at all. Furthermore, the raising of additional capital could dilute our shareholders’ ownership interests in our company and may cause the value of the shares to decline.
We may want or need to raise additional capital in the future through offerings of debt or equity securities or otherwise in order to, among other uses:
operate and expand our business;
to the extent declared, pay dividends (including the payment of dividends to the holders of our preference shares);
replace or improve capital in the event of significant reinsurance losses or adverse reserve developments;
fund liquidity needs caused by investment losses;