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MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- The pessimism that laced discussions about Lloyd's of London in previous meetings was absent at this year's Rendez-Vous de Septembre.
Instead, a rosy optimism about the market's future pervaded the discussions among reinsurers.
That optimism may be in part be because so many re-insurers now have a stake in the market as corporate investors. Nevertheless, several reinsurers were upbeat about the future of Lloyd's.
The present and future of Lloyd's is largely based on that influx of corporate capital over the past several years.
"We have traditionally been a market with a global customer base, and now we have a global capital base," said Max Taylor, chairman of Lloyd's.
And as the investors in Lloyd's consolidate their holdings in Lloyd's, the market is becoming more efficient, he said.
In future, the number of underwriters on each slip will reduce as fewer and bigger syndicates take larger lines; each syndicate in the future also will develop its own expertise, Mr. Taylor said.
"The days of the following syndicate are numbered," he said.
One area where some Lloyd's syndicates will likely develop expertise and enhance the growth of the market is securitization of insurance and reinsurance, Mr. Taylor said.
Lloyd's has the underwriting expertise to assess the risks and syndicates at Lloyd's will likely extend their expertise to include packaging the risks for the capital markets, he said.
"There is no reason why elements of risk shouldn't be transferred to the capital markets. It's a big opportunity," Mr. Taylor said.
Reinsurers based outside of London but with investments in Lloyd's are clearly betting on the market's future, especially Ber-muda market companies.
"In Lloyd's, we are executing the strategy we announced; there's no need to do more in terms of acquisitions," said Brian Duperreault, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Bermuda-based ACE Ltd.
The goal of ACE's investment in Lloyd's has been to boost its U.K. and international business opportunities.
As the largest single corporate member at Lloyd's of London (BI, June 22), with nearly 10% of 1998 capacity under management, ACE has a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing Lloyd's.
Mr. Duperreault acknowledged that Lloyd's has "expense issues" it must address to be more competitive with other markets. "Costs are too high and will be squeezed out," he said, noting that the current leadership is addressing these problems.
"Corporate names may be more inclined to wring inefficiencies out of the market" than individual names have been, Mr. Duperreault said.
Because corporate capital providers are not only providing capacity but also are acquiring managing agencies, "they have the means and the will to effect change," he said.
Stamford, Conn.-based Chart-well Re Corp. also has made a significant investment in Lloyd's, through its acquisition of Archer Group Holdings P.L.C. and Archer Managing Agents Ltd. The managing agency was renamed Chartwell Managing Agents Ltd., effective Sept. 1.
"The new name shows we are deploying more of our underwriting capital to this operation as it becomes more of an underwriting arm of Chartwell, said Steven J. Bensinger, president of Chartwell Re and chairman and CEO of Chartwell Managing Agents.
Chartwell plans to merge two of its syndicates, syndicates 839 and 463, subject to Lloyd's approval.
The combination will create a single syndicate with L90 million ($150.3 million) in capacity, making it one of the largest pure liability underwriters in the market, said Richard E. Cole, chairman and CEO of Chartwell Re.
Overall, Chartwell is writing an increasing amount of primary business and becoming less of
a pure reinsurer, Mr. Cole observed.
In addition to its Lloyd's agency, Chartwell owns Dakota Specialty Insurance Co., a non-admitted insurer, and Insurance Corp. of New York, an admitted company that specializes in program business.
With its U.S. and Lloyd's operations, and continued flat growth in reinsurance, primary business could grow to 65% of its volume, Mr. Cole said.