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Athora, NN Acquire Vivat From Anbang

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Bermuda-based Athora Holding in June 2019 announced plans to acquire Netherlands-based Vivat from Anbang Group Holdings along with NN Group of The Netherlands. NN will become the new owner of Vivat Schadeverzekeringen (Vivat Non-Life). Athora will retain Vivat’s life and asset management businesses.

The acquisition in the Netherlands comes soon after Athora’s January 2019 acquisition of Generali’s operations in Belgium. It is in line with the company’s external growth strategy.

Financial terms of the overall transaction were not disclosed. However, NN is acquiring Vivat’s non-life business for €416 million in cash. Athora’s acquisition will be funded by existing shareholders and a “limited amount” of term debt.

Anbang is a Chinese insurance conglomerate that had executed an overly ambitious, debt-funded external growth plan that resulted in the company being taken over in February 2018 by the Chinese insurance regulator, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC); and its founder and former chairman Wu Xiaohui being sentenced to serve an 18-year prison term for fraud in fundraising and embezzlement. The sale, which this publication had predicted as early as February 2018, is part of an effort to raise cash.

Strategic Rationale and Objectives

According to the company, “The Dutch market is attractive for Athora because of its strong economic fundamentals, positive outlook and robust regulatory environment that recognizes an economic view of insurers’ balance sheets. Vivat provides a strong platform for future growth due to its scale in the Dutch market, strong brands, deep distribution and underwriting capabilities in life & pensions, and a recently modernized and scalable IT platform. In addition, there is significant growth potential in life & pensions, especially guaranteed products, that Athora intends to develop further.”

As to objectives, “Athora will continue to run Vivat as a standalone company with the objective to become the leading player in life & pension guaranteed products in the Netherlands, with a sustainable and value generative business model delivering better outcomes to all stakeholders. The improved capital position and capital generation capabilities at Vivat following the transaction will increase certainty of policyholder benefit payments and further secure the future for the Vivat organization.”

Operational Impact

All of Vivat’s Life brands, including Zwitserleven (Swiss Life in Dutch) and Reeal will remain present in the Dutch market. Headquarters remain in Amstelveen, The Netherlands. After the transaction, Athora will have approximately €70 billion of consolidated assets. Vivat’s approximately 2.2 million life policyholders will join Athora’s existing 800,000 policyholders.

Prior to the transaction, Athora already was present in Germany (previously Delta Lloyd Lebensversicherung), Belgium (previously Generali Belgium), Ireland (previously Aegon Ireland), and in the reinsurance business through Athora Life Re, a Bermuda-domiciled reinsurer. The group then had about 800 employees, 800,000 policyholders, and total consolidated assets of €15 billion.

Vivat is the network partner of the Swiss Life pooling network in the Netherlands. The sale has no obvious immediate or future consequences for Swiss Life multinational pooling clients.

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