Canadian Underwriter

A sneak peek at the new brand for La Capitale/SSQ

November 25, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

Office workstation top view with businesspeople working around M&A

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The new name of the mutual insurer formed through the merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance will not use either of the existing monikers, an executive for the Quebec City-based firm suggested Tuesday.

“In 2020, we started working on our new brand because we did not want to have La Capitale or SSQ or a mix of it,” said Mélissa Gilbert, the combined company’s executive vice president and lead, finance, during KPMG Canada’s 29th Annual Insurance Conference.

La Capitale and SSQ completed their merger this past July. At the time, they anticipated a new name would be announced in the fall of 2020. At the moment the insurer is calling itself La Capitale/SSQ and has yet to identify its new brand name, other than confirming it will not be a mix of the existing names.

“We really wanted to have a new identity and hopefully we will be able to know something sooner rather than later,” Gilbert said during a virtual panel with KPMG Canada deal advisory partner Georges Pigeon, KPMG Quebec insurance sector lead Walter Rodina and Jean-François Chalifoux, CEO of La Capitale/SSQ.

KPMG Canada’s annual insurance conference was held online Tuesday.

La Capitale ranked 13th among Canadian P&C insurers in 2019 with net premiums written of $1.15 billion, according to the Canadian Underwriter 2020 Statistical Guide. SSQ’s net premiums written in P&C were $293 million in 2019.

The combined firm forms Canada’s largest mutual if you count both life and health and P&C. If you only count P&C premiums, Wawanesa and Economical are Canada’s largest and second-largest mutuals respectively.

Both La Capitale and SSQ retained KPMG Canada as their advisors on the merger. During Tuesday’s panel, Pigeon asked Gilbert and Chalifoux about the timing of the merger.

Officials with La Capitale and SSQ had been talking about a possible deal since the late 1980s, Chalifoux suggested during the panel, titled Merger of Equals: A Canadian Insurance M&A Story.

“Rumours had been swirling and several attempts had been made over the past 30 years. So it needed to happen at one point,” added Gilbert.

“With all those attempts, there were project names and this time it was Project Star. We named it that because it was a shooting star that we really watched to catch.”

Related: Let’s Make a Deal

The new chairman of La Capitale/SSQ is Jean St-Gelais, formerly chairman and CEO of La Capitale. St-Gelais is also leading the integration steering committee. Christian Fournier, former senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of La Capitale General, is the combined firm’s executive vice president and leader of P&C insurance.

Chalifoux, who joined SSQ in 2015, is also chair of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

“The world is changing fast,” Chalifoux said Tuesday when asked why the firms wanted to merge.

“Both [La Capitale and SSQ), in our strategic plans, came to the conclusion that size matters more and more going forward as we needed to invest in technology and digitization. Both CEOs, management teams and boards felt that we would become stronger together than if we continued to compete against each other.”


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