I recently returned from Milan where a group of curious people and I attended the Italian Run-off Forum. The highlights were good people (it was nice to catch up), terrible weather, and excellent canapes washed down with prosecco. I wish more colleagues and counterparties had been there to share the occasion, but I don’t think the lower attendance than in prior years is due to any decreased interest in legacy solutions among Italy’s risk carriers.
If anything, the intimate nature of the Forum allowed for deeper and more insightful discussions. The issues that drew the delegates’ attention the most were trust and reputation – not to mention plugging the industry knowledge gap. One Forum attendee asked me whether it is possible to obtain true finality under Italian law. The answer is yes, and the current transaction flow demonstrates counterparties’ comfort with the process.
The local legacy transfer taboo began to break down only in 2017, when Generali first put a major portfolio out to a third-party (…us!). We’ve now seen six Italian legacy deals, as local insurers start to look seriously at capital optimisation.
Italian legacy transfers aren’t without their quirks: they must be on a going-concern basis, and in the absence of an Italy-based subsidiary, you must choose between Freedom of Establishment and Freedom of Service. An early and open dialogue with the regulator is crucial in every jurisdiction, but it’s particularly important in Italy.
I will be back at the Italian Forum next year. In the meantime, I need to think how to encourage more potential counterparties to attend, but not more of our competitors. Leave your advice below, please!
Next, I am off to the Big Apple. I will let you know what’s happening there in about a week, in the second edition of A Rough Guide to Legacy.