Greenlight Capital Re is a holding company that was incorporated in July 2004 under the laws of Cayman Islands. In August 2004, we raised gross proceeds of $212.2 million from private placements of Greenlight Capital Re’s Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares, ("ordinary shares"). On May 24, 2007, Greenlight Capital Re raised proceeds of $208.3 million, net of underwriting fees, in an initial public offering of Class A ordinary shares, as well as an additional $50.0 million from a private placement of Class B ordinary shares.
The Company, through its operating subsidiary, Greenlight Re, is a Cayman Islands-based specialty property and casualty reinsurer with a reinsurance and investment strategy that we believe differentiates us from our competitors. Our goal is to build long-term shareholder value by selectively offering customized reinsurance solutions, in markets where capacity and alternatives are limited, that we believe will provide favorable long-term returns on equity. We aim to complement our underwriting results with a non-traditional investment approach in order to achieve higher rates of return over the long-term than reinsurance companies that employ more traditional, fixed-income investment strategies. We manage our investment portfolio according to a value-oriented philosophy, in which we take long positions in perceived undervalued securities and short positions in perceived overvalued securities.
Verdant Holding Company, Ltd (“Verdant”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd, is incorporated in the state of Delaware principally for the purpose of making strategic investments in a select group of property and casualty insurers and general agents in the U.S.
Description of Business
We manage our business on the basis of one operating segment; property and casualty reinsurance. In September 2008, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority granted approval for us to engage in long term business (e.g., life insurance, long term disability, long term care, etc.) in addition to our current property and casualty reinsurance business but to date we have not offered or written any long term products. We currently offer excess of loss and quota share products in the property and casualty market. Our underwriting operations are designed to capitalize on inefficiencies that we perceive exist in the traditional approach to underwriting. We believe that we conduct our business differently from traditional reinsurers in multiple ways, including: we focus on offering customized reinsurance solutions to select customers at times and in markets where capacity and alternatives are limited rather than pursuing and participating in broadly available traditional property and casualty opportunities; we aim to build a reinsurance portfolio of frequency and severity contracts with favorable ultimate economic results measured after all loss payments have been made rather than focusing on interim results when losses may be incurred but not yet reported or paid; we seek to act as the lead underwriter on a majority of the contracts we underwrite in an effort to obtain greater influence in negotiating pricing, terms and conditions rather than focusing on taking a minority participation in contracts that have been negotiated and priced by another party; we maintain a small staff of experienced generalist underwriters that are capable of underwriting many lines of property and casualty business rather than a large staff of underwriters, each with an individual, specific focus on certain lines of business;
we implement a ‘‘cradle to grave’’ service philosophy where the same individual underwrites and administers each reinsurance contract rather than separating underwriting and administrative duties among many employees; and
we compensate our management with a cash bonus structure largely dependent on our underwriting results over a multi-year period rather than on premium volume or underwriting results in any given financial accounting period.
Our investment strategy, like our reinsurance strategy, is designed to maximize returns over the long term while minimizing the risk of capital loss. Unlike the investment strategy of many of our competitors, which invest primarily in fixed-income securities either directly or through fixed-fee arrangements with one or more investment managers, our investment strategy is to invest in long and short positions primarily in publicly-traded equity and corporate debt instruments exclusively through a joint venture with a third-party investment advisor that is compensated with both a fixed annual fee based on assets under management and on the positive performance of our portfolio. DME Advisors, which makes investments on our behalf, is a value-oriented investment advisor that analyzes companies' available financial data, business strategies and prospects in an effort to identify undervalued and overvalued securities. DME Advisors is controlled by David Einhorn, the Chairman of our Board of Directors and the president of Greenlight Capital, Inc. DME Advisors has the contractual right to manage substantially all of our investable assets until December 31, 2010 and is required to follow our investment guidelines and to act in a manner that is fair and equitable in allocating investment opportunities to us. However, DME Advisors is not otherwise restricted with respect to the nature or timing of making investments for our account.
We measure our success by long-term growth in book value per share, which we believe is the most comprehensive gauge of the performance of our business. Accordingly, our incentive compensation plans are designed to align employee and shareholder interests. Compensation under our cash bonus plan is largely dependent on the ultimate underwriting returns of our business measured over a multi-year period, rather than premium targets or estimated underwriting profitability for the year in which we initially underwrote the business.
We characterize the reinsurance risks we assume as frequency or severity and aim to balance the risks and opportunities of our underwriting activities by creating a diversified portfolio of both types of businesses.
Frequency business is characterized by contracts containing a potentially large number of smaller losses emanating from multiple events. Clients generally buy this protection to increase their own underwriting capacity and typically select a reinsurer based upon the reinsurer's financial strength and expertise. We expect the results of frequency business to be less volatile than those of severity business from period to period due to its greater predictability. We also expect that over time the profit margins and return on equity for our frequency business will be lower than those of our severity business.
Severity business is typically characterized by contracts with the potential for significant losses emanating from one event, or multiple events. Clients generally buy this protection to reduce volatility from their balance sheets and, accordingly, we expect the results of severity business to be volatile from period to period. However, over the long term, we also expect that our severity business will generate higher profit margins and return on equity than our frequency business.
While we intend to continue to diversify our portfolio, our allocation of risk will vary based on our perception of the opportunities available in each line of business. Moreover, our focus on certain lines will fluctuate based upon market conditions and we may only offer or underwrite a limited number of lines in any given period. We intend to continue:
targeting markets where capacity and alternatives are underserved or constrained; seeking clients with appropriate expertise in their line of business; employing strict underwriting discipline; selecting reinsurance opportunities with favorable returns on equity over the life of the contract; and strengthening and expanding relationships with existing clients.
Marketing and Distribution
A majority of our business is sourced through reinsurance brokers. Brokerage distribution channels provide us with access to an efficient, variable cost and global distribution system without the significant time and expense that would be incurred in creating a wholly-owned distribution network. We believe that our financial strength rating, unencumbered balance sheet and superior client service are essential for creating long-term relationships with clients and brokers.
We aim to build and strengthen long-term relationships with global reinsurance brokers and captive insurance companies located in the Cayman Islands. Our management team has significant relationships with most of the primary and specialty broker intermediaries in the reinsurance marketplace. We believe that by maintaining close relationships with brokers we will be able to continue to obtain access to a broad range of reinsurance clients and opportunities.
We focus on the quality and financial strength of any brokerage firm with which we do business. Brokers do not have the authority to bind us to any reinsurance contract. We review and approve all contract submissions in our corporate offices located in the Cayman Islands. We have entered into a service agreement with a specialist service provider. Under the agreement, the specialist provides administration and support in developing and maintaining relationships, reviewing and recommending programs and managing risks on certain specialty lines of business. The service provider does not have any authority to bind the Company to any reinsurance contracts.