Aspen Insurance Holdings is not expected to hold its departing reinsurance head to his one-year notice period in order to help maintain good terms with its top-five client, AIG, understands.

Last week, Aspen confirmed Thomas Lillelund’s resignation from the up-for-sale insurer and revealed that he had been recruited by AIG.

Aspen’s reinsurance franchise is regarded as its most attractive asset and Lillelund’s unexpected departure led to his number two, New York-based Emil Issavi, being swiftly promoted to lead the business. Aspen Re posted a combined ratio of 89 percent for the second quarter of 2018.

According to sources, Lillelund is under a 12 month notice that would ordinarily keep him out of the market until August 2019. However, it is believed that Aspen is willing in principle to release Lillelund from his obligations as early as Q4 this year to recognise the fact he is effectively joining a key client rather than a competitor.

AIG confirmed on 8 August that the Danish National would rejoin the firm to head its newly created Luxembourg-based business, AIG Europe SA. He will report to Chris Townsend, chief executive officer of international general insurance at AIG.

Lillelund, who had previously worked at AIG, joined Aspen Re in 2008.

According to broking sources, AIG is one of Aspen’s largest accounts and the organisation thought that if it acts pragmatically over Lillelund’s departure then it may be rewarded when it comes to the renewal of AIG’s reinsurance programs. In addition to AIG, Aspen Re’s key clients include Axa, Lloyd’s syndicates, RSA, XL and Zurich.

Negotiations over shortening his notice period are expected to take place later this month before Lillelund goes on gardening leave and there is an expectation that he could even join AIG as early as November/December 2018. AIG Europe SA formally begins writing business on 1 December 2018. In the meantime, Lillelund is not expected to attend the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous next month.

Speaking on the company’s 2 August investor call, Aspen Group CEO Chris O’Kane reassured investors that its reinsurance arm had not suffered from the speculation over the company’s future following a sale process that began earlier this year. Aspen is believed to be in advanced talks with the investment firm Apollo Global Management.

“As of this morning, I can tell you that every single reinsurance client that we started this year with is still a reinsurance client”, he explained.

An Aspen spokesperson declined to comment on when Lillelund is expected to formally leave the company’s employment.