"The management teams of virtually every large property-casualty company will be having a conversation today about whether they should be more active acquirers,” says Sandler O'Neill's Paul Newsome.
Before sellers get too excited, they should note the price Ace is paying for Chubb is just 1.7x book value - a discount to what high-quality insurance businesses typically sell for. "“I probably need to reassess what I’m holding out for because I’m never going to get that big price-to-book multiple now," says Newsome. "If a much-vaunted, well-regarded shop gets 1.7x book value, what should the mid-cap company that lacks scale and is kind of struggling get?”
Possible buyers would include AIG, Allstate, and Travelers. With each having less than a $15B market cap, maybe on the block: W.R. Berkley (WRB +5.2%), Arch Capital (ACGL +2.7%), XL Group (XL +2%), and Cincinnati Financial (CINF +4.5%). Sporting just an $18B market cap and thus also maybe a target is Hartford Financial (HIG +6%).
"There is now literally no deal that cannot be contemplated in P&C," says Citi's Todd Bault.