Benchimol sidestepped questions over the rumoured sale of the firm’s $3 billion reinsurance unit

Axis Capital president and chief executive Albert Benchimol expertly sidestepped a question seeking clarification over whether the company’s $3 billion reinsurance unit would put up for sale during an earnings call.

He was asked by an analyst whether Axis Re would be sold. 

“I can’t comment on market rumors and speculation,” responded Benchimol.

”It should go without saying that we’re always focused on value and positioning the company for success and we have and will continue to act with those objectives in mind.

”But as you can see from the performance that we delivered, we’ve demonstrated that we’re committed to driving top-tier return on capital.

“I think the performance that we’ve been showing in terms of our improvements over the last few quarters and this quarter provides real evidence that we’re delivering on our promise.

”I want to say I’m incredibly proud of the work that our team has done to strengthen our reinsurance business. They’ve delivered on the ambitious task of improving the quality and reducing the volatility of our reinsurance business. And now AXIS Re is well positioned to deliver very attractive returns.”

The company revealed a 45% drop in cat reinsurance premium in its Q1 2022 results. This was one of the reasons attributed to a 9% reduction in Axis Re’s gross premiums during the period. 

A proposed $11 billion merger between Axis and Partner Re in 2015, which would have seen it become a top five global reinsurer, was called off. Axis went on to acquire Novae in 2017, creating a $2 billion insurer in the London specialty market and top ten re/insurer at Lloyd’s.