While there's little chance of a Class of 2010, the market will still look very different by the end of the year

All eyes are on Bermuda. As our coverage shows this month, the island, host to the biennial World Insurance Forum (WIF), is undergoing seismic change. In the absence of a market-moving event, the companies based there are making the headlines themselves.

M&A is the name of the day. As RenaissanceRe’s Neil Currie joked at WIF, there seems to be an investment banker lurking behind every shopfront, looking to broker a lucrative deal. Max Capital and Harbor Point are leading the charge, in a transaction universally agreed to look sensible on paper, although there is some scepticism about whether any deal can truly be a merger of equals.

Meanwhile, as the industry grandees clear out to leave room for the next generation, the common wisdom is that their departures put their companies into play – so watch this space for news to come on Endurance and Ariel Re. And in the meantime, see our interview with new Ariel chief exec George Rivaz.

As companies continue to trade below book, and regulatory uncertainty in the USA hovers on the horizon, deals aren’t happening as fast as otherwise might be expected. But, as ever, it’s the money men pulling the strings, and those private equity investors will be demanding their exits sooner rather than later.

And in the face of growing political pressure, from on and off shore, those that don’t make the big deal might just up sticks and leave, à la Flagstone Re. There’s scant chance of a Class of 2010, but nevertheless Bermuda will look a very different market by the end of this year.

But lest we forget, these companies, whether they hit the magic $3bn or no, are small fry compared to the two great behemoths that straddle the market: Munich Re and Swiss Re. These two reinsurers have taken very different approaches to the financial crisis – and the results have been telling. See our analysis this issue.

Ellen Bennett, executive editor, Global Reinsurance