Canadian Underwriter

Fairfax’s Newline insurer to open German office

December 14, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Newline Insurance Company Ltd., which is ultimately owned by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., announced Tuesday it has received regulatory approval to open a new branch office in Cologne.

Cologne Cathedral, GermanyNewline, which writes international casualty and cargo coverage, is part of Fairfax-owned Odyssey Re Holdings Corp., based in Stamford, Conn.

The opening of a German office gives Newline a “platform within the E.U. for potential expansion into neighboring territories,” stated Carl Overy, chief executive officer of London-based Newline Group, in a release.

The announcement comes two months after Fairfax announced a US$240-million agreement to acquire American International Group Inc.’s local commercial and consumer operations in five south American nations as well as Turkey.

Fairfax’s other insurance subsidiaries include Toronto-based Northbridge Insurance.

In June, 2016, Fairfax announced it agreed to acquire Zurich Insurance Company South Africa Limited and 80% of Indonesia-based PT Asuransi Multi Artha Guna Tbk (AMAG).

New York City-based AIG said Oct. 18 it will “sell to Fairfax its local commercial and consumer insurance operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Turkey.” AIG added at the time that Fairfax would “also acquire renewal rights for the portfolio of local business written by AIG’s Central and Eastern European (CEE) operations in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, and assume AIG’s CEE operating assets and employees.”

In 2015, Fairfax agreed to acquire QBE’s operations in Eastern Europe and the same year, a Fairfax subsidiary completed the acquisition of the general insurance business of MCIS Insurance Berhad of Malaysia.

The new Cologne office of Newline “will begin underwriting Financial Lines with immediate effect, followed by General Liability and Marine Cargo & Specie later in 2017,” Newline stated Dec. 13, 2016 in a release.

Newline operates Syndicate 1218 in the Lloyd’s market and Newline Insurance Company Limited.

In 2015, Fairfax acquired a majority interest in Brit PLC, which is based in London and operates in the Lloyd’s market.

Other Fairfax insurers include Woodland-Hills, Calif.-based workers’ compensation provider Zenith National and Crum & Forster of Morristown, N.J.

Fairfax was founded in 1985 by Prem Watsa, who is currently chairman and CEO. Watsa controls The Sixty Two Investment Company Ltd., which, as of 2015, owned 42% of votes attached to all classes of Fairfax Financial shares.

Non-insurance operations of Fairfax include William Ashley China, Kitchen Stuff, Sporting Life and The Keg restaurant chain, as well as a majority voting interest in Cara Operations Ltd. Cara operates of several restaurant chains, including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and Milestones, among others.

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