As the summer draws to a close, thoughts invariably turn to the beginning of the renewals, and the unofficial starting gun for these negotiations, the Rendez-Vous de Septembre. It is difficult to explain to someone not involved in the industry just what the Rendez-Vous is. After all, it's not a conference (although there is a smattering of plenary and roundtable sessions for the particularly conscientious reinsurance practitioner), neither is it an exhibition (although delegates are required to run the gamut of the specialist re/insurance media in order to collect their badges and lists of participants). Neither is it a seminar, congress, symposium or convention.
Instead, it is more a confab, a gathering, a mass or a multitude. In business speak, a 'networking opportunity'. There is no real structure to it, no formal centre around which the massing throngs gather, no focal point of comment beyond the business of the day - the state of the re/insurance market, its high points, low points and what the future holds. Thus, because of the very nature of the Rendez-Vous, the Monte Carlo experience depends to be a one-on-one when it comes to business meetings, and many-to-many when it comes to the more social side of the cocktail parties circuit around and about Monaco. The problem is, then, that even the most attentive attendee is limited in canvassing other peoples' opinions and views, unlike, for example, a more traditional conference where a panel of speakers and convention centre pull the delegates together.
But for those delegates staying in the major Monaco hotels during the course of the Rendez-Vous, there is an alternative - GR TV. Eight of the top hotels in Monte Carlo and slightly further afield are partnering with Global Reinsurance to provide their guests with daily programming showing what's taking place, where, who's involved and how it's happening. For four days from Sunday 7 September, the highlights of the Rendez-Vous will be beamed into delegates' rooms, and broadcast at two of the main meeting places for the event, the Sporting d'hiver and the Café de Paris.
For those unable to attend the Rendez-Vous, this year for the first time GR TV will be available through webstreaming, at www.globalreinsurance.tv, or through the main Global Reinsurance website, www.globalreinsurance.com. This move is part of a package of changes Global Reinsurance has been making to its website, including providing the most up-to-date specialist re/insurance news service available on the internet. A selection of last month's headlines shows the variety of news items constantly being posted on the Global Reinsurance website, and the real-time nature of the news service means that Global Reinsurance has recently been ahead of the rest of the pack for a number of major re/insurance-related news stories, including Trenwick's filing for Chapter 11 protection in the US.
This issue of Global Reinsurance includes a look at the convergence of problems which resulted in the demise of most of Trenwick's business, with the exception of its Lloyd's operation which is currently in the process of an MBO. Last summer saw the phrase 'the perfect storm' coined by Dennis Mahoney, Chairman and CEO of Aon Ltd. This time last year, Mr Mahoney warned that the confluence of cynical investors, falling investment markets and under-reserved back year problems could pull the plug on some industry players, and indeed this appears to be the case with Trenwick. Some of the factors that conspired to bring down the organisation, such as a rampant M&A strategy and back year problems, are dealt with elsewhere in this issue. At the same time, Trenwick's concern that its reinsurance assets may not be entirely recoverable is an issue for cedants with Trenwick as a carrier. There is no doubt that the very 'recoverability' of reinsurance will be a key talking point at the Rendez-Vous, and if more failures strike in the near future, an increasing worry to the market.
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