As ever, the Rendez-Vous de Septembre provided the first glimmer of what the year-end renewals may hold for the re/insurance sector. This year's meeting proved an interesting event, with several new names attending following the influx of capital into the re/insurance sector over the past year. Intriguing in particular was a company - D'Artagnan Holdings - that it had yet to be officially announced. Led by former AXA Corporate Solutions head Jean-Marie Nessi, D'Artagnan promises to be the latest in the ranks of new Bermuda-based companies, though very little is known of it as yet, beyond several former AXA executives being part of the start-up management team.
Alongside the new names, came an old one. AXA Re - M Nessi's alma mater - has been resuscitated as both a name and a business, having been separated out from the AXA Corporate Solutions fold. In fact, Corporate Solutions is now a subsidiary of AXA Re, which is back to focusing on its original, and generally successful, remit of international reinsurance business written through several local offices. Interestingly, however, its London-based operation will not be writing traditional London market, but will be responsible mainly for the UK and Ireland books.
This year's Rendez-Vous also saw the disappearance of some old names. Of highest profile was probably Copenhagen Re, in years past the host of the Tuesday late-night cocktail party at the Hermitage. Fittingly, this event has been taken over by one of the new Bermudians, White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd, and - unsurprisingly - proved as successful as ever. Others to have dropped off the list include Overseas Partners - though at least one of its executives was spotted in a new role - Scandinavian Re and Sorema.
Despite this ebbing and flowing of companies, delegate numbers barely fell. According to Rendez-Vous committee member Patrick Snowball, numbers were down just 20 delegates on the 2001 registered participants. What does seem to shift each year, however, is the balance of practitioners to service providers. Several delegates commented on the increased percentage of lawyers, accountants and technology providers at the Rendez-Vous year-on-year, and a corresponding fall in cedants present. As ever, it is difficult to judge since registration is not mandatory, meaning the full numbers are never really known. In addition, some delegates left early on in the proceedings this year, wishing to be with their families on the anniversary of September 11.
People's stories of how they heard the news of the World Trade Center disaster the previous year were recounted numerous times over the course of this year's meeting. The return to Monte Carlo brought many memories flooding back, but the presence of so many delegates proved that the largest loss in the industry's history to date had not ravaged the business as seriously as had been anticipated in the hours and days following the attack.
While the future Chairman of Lloyd's, Lord Levene of Portsoken, was attending the Rendez-Vous with his initiators to the London market, broker Benfield Greig, the current Chairman was convincing Lloyd's members that they needed to vote in radical reforms to the marketplace. Sax Riley chaired an Extraordinary General Meeting to put the Chairman's Strategy Group proposals to the vote. These reforms aim to improve the transparency of the market, and increase its profitability to the level of the best syndicates. Under the capacity-weighted vote system, Lloyd's comfortably won approval to start implementing these changes. However, under the one member, one vote system - which is heavily weighted towards individual Names at Lloyd's - the membership did not approve the implementation of the changes.
The proposals to revamp Lloyd's were explained in some detail by Sax Riley on Global Reinsurance TV, broadcast at the Rendez-Vous. Copies of the videos of the four one-and-a-half hour programmes are available, as well as a highlights programme, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The programmes features interviews of some of the top practitioners in the industry, as well as items on topical subjects such as terrorism risk modeling and quality initiatives. Global Reinsurance is indebted to Cameron Shaw Productions for all its help in producing the broadcast, which was described by one Rendez-Vous delegate as "the event of the event," as well as sponsor XL Re, without whom there would have been no broadcast. Our thanks go too to all those in the industry who agreed to be interviewed for what we hope was the first of many Global Reinsurance TV productions.