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Liberty Re is relaunched

LONDON-Liberty Mutual Group is setting up a London reinsurance subsidiary nearly two years after it originally planned to open the unit.

Liberty Re Ltd. will have $400 million in capital. John Engestrom, former chief executive officer of Mercantile & General Reinsurance Co. P.L.C., has been named Liberty Re's CEO. M&G Re was bought by Swiss Reinsurance Co. last year (BI, Sept. 3, 1996).

"Liberty Re will be the global reinsurance unit of Liberty Mutual in Boston," said Mr. Engestrom.

The reinsurer will write a broad range of reinsurance, from property/casualty business to life and health reinsurance, he said.

Liberty Re will work more closely with its clients than most reinsurers, offering such services as claims management and product design, Mr. Engestrom said.

The launch of Liberty Re is the second attempt by Liberty Mutual to establish a global reinsurer in London.

In April 1995, the insurer hired James M. Payne, former vice chairman of Sedgwick Group P.L.C., to be CEO of Liberty Re (BI, May 29, 1995). Graham Potter, who was then managing director of Copenhagen Reinsurance Co. (U.K.) Ltd., joined several months later as chief operating officer. However, Mr. Potter then resigned a few months later, and rumors circulated in the London market that Liberty Re may have problems obtaining a license from the British Department of Trade and Industry because of Mr. Payne's alleged prior involvement with the H.S. Weavers line slip, a major source of U.S. casualty coverage that collapsed in 1990 (BI, Nov. 20, 1995).

Mr. Payne retired from Liberty Re at the end of 1995, and plans to launch the reinsurer were suspended, Mr. Engestrom said.