Aspen Insurance Holdings CEO Chris O’Kane has acknowledged there will likely be senior management changes at the Bermudian firm once the agreed $2.6bn buy-out by investment heavyweight Apollo Global Management closes next year.
But O’Kane, aged 63, is committed to remaining in the industry if he does leave the group following the transaction closing, which is earmarked for the first half of 2019.
Talking to re-Insurance.com at the beginning of the Rendez-Vous, O’Kane welcomed the recent deal as finally bringing an end to the “stresses of a process, which naturally creates uncertainty, raises questions and takes up a lot of management time”.
He added: “As we said in our announcement last month, this transaction is testament to the strength of Aspen’s franchise, the quality of our business and the talent and expertise of our people.”
Aspen had run a sale process for much of the year. At around 1.1x price-to-book (marginally lower if foregone dividends are taken into account), $2.6bn was regarded as a fair price for a business that endured a tough 2017 and whose insurance operations are regarded as sub-par in contrast to its better-regarded reinsurance franchise.
“My job now is to get the deal to a successful conclusion but also to ensure that the day job gets done and that we continue to deliver on the strategic priorities of the business,” he explained.
“After that, my position is undecided. In between now and closing, I will be sitting down and discussing this with Apollo as they determine what changes they wish to make.”
O’Kane – who moved to Bermuda earlier this year – added with a hint of a wry grin: “I enjoy gardening as a recreational activity but I’m certainly not ready for gardening full time.”
“This is a wonderful industry. Yes, with many challenges but also many opportunities”.
O’Kane’s comments highlight he has not lost any enthusiasm for the sector after seventeen years with Aspen and would look to return in a different role if he does depart next year.
The executive is entitled to a $10.9mn severance payment following the change of control once the takeover of the NYSE-listed carrier completes. The entitlement was increased for both O’Kane and CFO Scott Kirk earlier this year to bring more in line with industry peers.
For the full interview please download re-Insurance.com’s Sunday Monte Carlo edition which is available here.