Breaking news: Another Massive Reinsurance Failure

Well folks, the crooks in Gucci suits have outdone themselves this time. Out of the blue here comes another ENRON type scam and business failure

Reinsurers with MBIA ties to record Q4 charges
Wed Jan 16, 2008 8:43pm EST

By Lilla Zuill

NEW YORK, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Bermuda reinsurers RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd (RNR.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and PartnerRe Ltd (PRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Wednesday they will write off 3-year-old investments in Channel Re, a reinsurer formed solely to do business with MBIA Inc (MBI.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the world’s largest bond insurer.

The announcement comes after Channel Re notified the companies that fourth-quarter losses stemming from its business with MBIA are expected to exceed its shareholders equity.

RenRe said its investment in Channel Re carried a value of $126.7 million at the end of September. PartnerRe said it would take a $74 million fourth-quarter charge, equal to about $1.31 per share, to write down its investment.

Reinsurers effectively insure other insurers, spreading the risk of losses among more than one party.

Channel Re expects $200 million in credit impairments from a $3.3 billion mark-to-market charge at MBIA, according to Partner Re’s statement.

David Lilly, an outside spokesman for RenRe, declined to comment further on the Channel Re development. PartnerRe could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rising defaults in mortgage-related bonds have threatened to wipe out a significant amount of capital for bond insurers such as MBIA, putting ratings under threat of downgrade.

Last month MBIA took steps to shore up capital, securing up to $1 billion from private equity firm Warburg Pincus, and last week sold $1 billion of surplus notes.

Investors appear to still have doubts; MBIA shares fell 16.5 percent to $13.40 on Wednesday.

OFFSHORE PROTECTION

Channel Re was jointly formed in Bermuda in 2004 by MBIA, RenRe, PartnerRe and Koch Financial to do business exclusively with MBIA, which held a 17 percent stake. RenaissanceRe was the largest owner with about 33 percent, Koch owned roughly 30 percent and Partner Re, 20 percent.

Channel Re had a triple-A rating, with a stable outlook, from McGraw-Hill Co’s (MHP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) rating firm Standard & Poor’s.

Bermuda, an offshore reinsurance center, is home to more than 1,500 insurers and about half a dozen bond reinsurers, including another that counted MBIA as a large customer, Ram Reinsurance Holdings (RAMR.O: Quote, Profile, Research).

Separately, RenaissanceRe said it will also take a $55 million charge in the fourth quarter to increase its incurred, but not realized, reserves for subprime-related exposures in its casualty clash reinsurance business.

RenRe said it expects to post a profit in the fourth quarter and for the full year despite the charges. It is due to report quarterly earnings on Feb. 5.

2 thoughts on “Breaking news: Another Massive Reinsurance Failure”

  1. These are (I am pretty sure) bond market re-insurers. They are getting caught in the current lending meltdown.

    I believe the [email protected] way they set up the vehicle was for tax/regulatory purposes.

    Almost all the financial institutions have them, and they are one of the reasons it is so hard to get a handle on any financial institutions bookwork.

  2. Russell another concern I’ve seen expressed in the blogosphere relates to the effective self guarantee of certain of these securities as demonstrated in the General Re in Virginia, the criminal prosecution of which was kiaboshed by DoJ in DC.

    The complexity of these financial instruments and sidecar agreements is about as hard to get one’s arms around like the extent of subprime.

    I saw an excellent thread on Yahoo RNR where the problems with Channel were discussed last month. It’s good reading with some very excellent insight. As is his style Cowboy has rode through there though I personally see no point in posting at that board.

    Sop

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