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Markel to establish German insurance unit due to Brexit

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Markel Corp. said Thursday that it plans to establish an insurance subsidiary in Germany within the first half of 2018 in response to the Brexit negotiations.

The Richmond, Virginia-based company specialty insurer has had discussions with BaFin, the German federal financial supervisory authority, and will incorporate and capitalize the new unit subject to regulatory approval within the first half of 2018, or at least no later than the Brexit negotiations’ current March 29, 2019 deadline, the firm said in a statement.

The subsidiary will focus on meeting the insurance needs of the 27 countries that remain in the European Union, according to the statement.

Markel, through its wholly owned subsidiary Markel International, currently writes business worldwide from its London-based platforms and through branch offices around the world. Since 2012, Markel International has been doing business in Germany through a branch office in Munich, where the new company would be based, according to the statement.

"We are focused on building upon and extending the global reach of our businesses,” Richard R. Whitt, Markel’s co-CEO, said in the statement. “That means that we are committed to a strategy of profitable growth of our continental European business. Establishing a new insurance company in Germany will enhance Markel's ability to do just that."

Markel joins such insurers as American International Group Inc., FM Global, and Lloyd’s of London, which are planning to set up operations in Europe following the 2016 referendum in which voters in the United Kingdom elected to leave the European Union. The Brexit negotiations began in March.

In February, U.K.-based insurance underwriter Beazley P.L.C. said it plans to establish a European subsidiary in Dublin in light of Brexit.