Validus’ specialty business, which includes Western World and Lloyd’s syndicate Talbot, has tapped Bob Eells to join as chief operating officer.

Eells joins from XL Catlin where he focused on new products, innovations and corporate acquisitions, according to his new employer.

At Validus, Eells will report to specialty boss Jonathan Ritz and join the group’s leadership team to head up operations for the division.

The hire follows a shock announcement in January that AIG had agreed to buy Validus in a $5.6bn deal.

Eells worked at XL for four years beginning in 2002 before moving to Catlin, where he spent 13 years before he again found himself working for the Bermuda-domiciled (re)insurer after it acquired Stephen Catlin’s namesake firm in 2015.

XL, in turn, was acquired by French insurance giant Axa in a shock $15.3bn deal announced in March.

“Bob is a highly respected leader with expertise supporting growing businesses like our own,” said Ritz.

“We’re focused on becoming a leader in each of our markets and enhancing our operations, and Bob will help us achieve this goal,” he added.

“He is a valuable addition to the team as we broaden capacity, expand our product portfolio and strengthen our broker, agent and client relationships.”