Berkshire Hathaway Enlarges Footprint In Australia

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is enlarging its operations in Australia by entering the healthcare underwriting market there. The insurer also indicated that it will start underwriting new business in New Zealand.

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Berkshire Hathaway's push to grow in APAC region

Warren Buffet has been working on expanding insurance coverage around the globe due to rising competition in the reinsurance industry. His firm owns Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, which opened its doors in Sydney last March. Buffett hired four executives from AIG in 2013 to begin BHSI, which has operations in several regions, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia.

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BHSI said it would offer property, casualty and executive and professional lines coverage for Australia’s hospitals and medical practices and facilities. Tony Bainbridge, who most recently was regional head of healthcare for Asia-Pacific at AIG, has been appointed to lead the healthcare underwriting efforts in Australia.

Chris Colahan, president of Australasia Region for BHSI said: “Tony comes to BHSI with more than three decades of industry experience and deep technical knowledge of the risks facing the Australian healthcare sector.”

Berkshire’s expansion in New Zealand

Berkshire Hathaway’s Specialty Insurance business said Tuesday it had received a license from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and will underwrite property and casualty insurance through an office in Auckland. The division will be led by country manager Cameron McLisky, who was most recently the regional financial lines manager at AIG Asia Pacific.

BHSI chief executive officer Peter Eastwood said in a statement: “We open our doors in Auckland with a highly experienced team, a broad appetite for property and casualty risks and a commitment to providing responsive and enduring solutions to the marketplace.”

BHSI’s other appointments in New Zealand include Dough Thomson, who has been named property and energy manager, and Anthony Posa, who has been named casualty manager. BHSI also announced Megan Howe as claims manager.

The latest announcement builds on the news from earlier this month that Berkshire Hathaway agreed to pay A$500 million ($388 million) for a stake in Insurance Australia Group Ltd (IAG). As detailed by ValueWalk, in an effort to drive its expansion in the region, Warren Buffet’s company will get a 3.7% stake in the Sydney-based firm through a placement of new shares. IAG said the deal with Berkshire enables it to free up some capital, up to A$700 million, over the next five years. The free capital will enable the Australian insurance provider to look for expansion opportunities in Malaysia, China and Thailand.