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Accenture Awarded Contract to Enhance Finnish State Treasury Insurance Claims System

Accenture has won a public tender and signed a four-year framework agreement with the Finnish State Treasury to develop and maintain a range of IT applications that support the State Treasury’s effort to digitalize its claims management system and enables the State Treasury to further improve and expedite its claims service.

Under the agreement, signed 14 January 2015, Accenture will develop and maintain new functionalities, expand the processing scope of the claims system to cover additional insurance products, and integrate online services into the service processes. Accenture will also help the State Treasury upgrade its claims system and implement statutory updates. The State Treasury’s claims system, which is based on the TIA Technology® end-to-end integrated core solution, was implemented in 2012, and currently processes statutory work and military accident insurance claims and payments.

“Accenture has the extensive experience in insurance claims management systems that we needed and a deep understanding of the TIA software in particular,” says Jyri Tapper, director, Insurance, at the Finnish State Treasury.

The Finnish State Treasury is a multidisciplinary government agency that develops internal corporate services for the central government, such as financial and personnel administration. One of its key functions is providing benefits and compensation for citizens and institutions. It handles compensation to criminal liability and military injury customers as well as compensation for occupational and military injury and traffic accidents for which the government is liable.

“The Finnish State Treasury is a very important client for us, and the framework agreement is a significant step in our co-operation. Accenture offers an optimal combination of in-depth insurance, methodology and technological capabilities to fit the State Treasury’s needs,” says Marko Rauhala, managing director for Accenture’s Health & Public Service business in Finland.

“The claims process represents the quintessential ‘moment of truth’ for any insurance customer,” said Risto Sandberg, managing director for Accenture’s Insurance practice in Finland. “It’s where an insurance provider is put to the test in terms of its ability to delight or disappoint the customer. We are proud to team with the State Treasury and help the agency further enhance its compensation services.”

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Maurice Smith Named Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois President

Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) today named Maurice Smith as President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL).

Smith succeeds Karen Atwood, who was promoted to a new position over service and technology for HCSC's multi-state operations. He will report directly to Colleen Reitan, Executive Vice President and President of Plan Operations, HCSC.

"Maurice brings to this role a broad perspective and deep understanding of our business and operations rooted in more than 20 years of experience across corporate finance, treasury, business development and subsidiary management," said Reitan. "His track record of leading multi-stakeholder teams, along with his strong connection to the Illinois business and civic community will help position BCBSIL for continued success in this fast-changing health care environment."

Smith previously led HCSC's treasury department and corporate development initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions and the formation of strategic partnerships. He focused on capital deployment initiatives in support of the company's overall strategy, including the acquisition of two health plans in other HCSC states. He also oversaw HCSC's subsidiaries, and served as the chairman of the board of directors of Dearborn National Life Insurance Company, HCSC's largest subsidiary.

"Expanding access to affordable health care coverage is an imperative," said Smith. "I look forward to working with health care providers, employers, and communities in our state to make a difference for our members."

Smith is the Chair-elect for the Chicago Sinfonietta and holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

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Brits Admit They Need A Shock To Take Heart Health Seriously

The nation’s approach to just how seriously we take our heart health has been revealed by new research. One in four people (25%) said it took someone they know to have a heart attack for them to take their heart health more seriously.

The study from Bupa shows that over half of those asked (51%) admit they’re worried about getting heart disease. Despite this 44% say they would need to have a health scare and a third (32%) said a personal illness in order to make them think about living a healthier heart lifestyle. The average person also admitted they didn’t or wouldn’t start taking their heart health seriously until their 40s. Interestingly, a further one in eight (13%) people were prompted to think about their heart health when someone they knew was diagnosed with high cholesterol, while one in 10 (11%) were prompted by having children.

Dr Steven Luttrell, Medical Director at Bupa says “Coronary heart disease is the biggest cause of death in the UK causing almost 74,000 deaths every year [1]. With nearly 2.3 million people in the UK living with heart disease, people need to be more aware of the risk factors associated with the disease. People can’t afford to wait until they face a health scare to take action. We can all take active steps now to reduce our future risk of heart disease.

The research shows that whilst a staggering eight in 10 (80%) people say they’re not confident of the signs of heart disease there appears to be some confusion about the information available. A quarter (25%) of people say there isn’t enough information out there, while a fifth of respondents (18%) say there’s too much information, but third (33%) of respondents admit that realistically most people just don’t want to know.

Knowledge is key

However, understanding the contributing factors to heart disease is an important first step in identifying whether you are at risk of heart disease and to enable you to take preventative action. Worryingly, of those questioned, only a quarter (26%) knew their cholesterol level, just 37% their blood pressure reading and 4 in 10 (42%) their BMI. Younger people aged between 18 to 24 are the least knowledgeable about their heart health, with a staggering 91% not knowing their cholesterol levels and three quarters (79%) not knowing their blood pressure.

Dr Steven Luttrell continues, “Everyone can do something to help reduce their future risk of heart disease, even if you don’t think you’re at high risk. More women die prematurely from heart disease than breast cancer, so its vital that both men and women lead healthy lifestyles by maintaining a healthy weight, doing some physical exercise and not smoking. I’d recommend speaking to your doctor or having a health assessment to check your cardiac risk, learn more about your health and to get helpful advice. Taking steps now to live a healthier lifestyle really can make the world of difference.”

The annual cost of treating coronary heart disease in the UK is nearly £2 billion[2]. Bupa’s own specialist cardiac support team take on average 8,000 calls a month from members requiring treatment or advice on heart disease[3]. Bupa offers cardiovascular risk checks as part of its health assessments available in clinics across the UK, suporting people to assess their risk and understand the lifestyle changes that can help make a difference.

The healthcare provider also offers customers with heart disease access to a specialist team of nurses and dieticians through its COACH Program which helps members suffering from heart disease to manage and improve their diet and lifestyle, helping to minimise further risks to their health.

[1] British Heart Foundation http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/heart-statistics.aspx. May 2014 [2] British Heart Foundation http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/heart-statistics.aspx. May 2014 [3] Internal Bupa Report: Cardiac Team Monthly Calls Dashboard May 2014. All figures, unless stated otherwise are from OnePoll survey commissioned by Bupa of 2000 18+ adults between 20th January 2015 and 22nd January 2015. The survey was carried out online and on mobile.

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Metlife Announces Fourth Quarter And Full Year 2014 Results

MetLife reported operating earnings* of $1.6 billion, up 2 percent over the fourth quarter of 2013. On a per share basis, operating earnings were $1.38, up 1 percent over the prior year quarter.

Operating earnings in the Americas grew 4 percent on a reported basis and 6 percent on a constant currency basis. Operating earnings in Asia increased 3 percent on a reported basis and 9 percent on a constant currency basis. Operating earnings in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) decreased 4 percent on a reported basis but increased 9 percent on a constant currency basis. Fourth quarter 2014 operating earnings included the following items:

  • a previously announced increase in asbestos legal reserves, which decreased operating earnings by $117 million, or $0.10 per share, after tax;
  • tax adjustments in Latin America and EMEA, which increased operating earnings by $27 million, or $0.02 per share, after tax;
  • favorable catastrophe experience and prior year development, which increased operating earnings by $16 million, or $0.01 per share, after tax;
  • certain insurance adjustments in the Americas and an actuarial update in Asia, which increased operating earnings by $5 million, after tax.

MetLife’s operating return on equity (ROE)*, excluding accumulated other comprehensive income (AOCI) other than foreign currency translation adjustments (FCTA), was 11.3 percent for the fourth quarter and the company’s tangible operating ROE* was 14.1 percent.

On a GAAP basis, MetLife reported fourth quarter 2014 net income of $1.5 billion, or $1.30 per share. Net income includes $120 million, after tax, in net derivative gains, reflecting falling 2 interest rates and the weakening of foreign currencies against the dollar.

MetLife uses derivatives as part of its broader asset-liability management strategy to hedge certain risks, such as movements in interest rates and foreign currencies. This hedging activity often generates derivative gains or losses and creates fluctuations in net income because the risk being hedged may not have the same GAAP accounting treatment.

Premiums, fees & other revenues* were $13.1 billion, essentially unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2013 and up 3 percent on a constant currency basis from the fourth quarter of 2013.

Book value, excluding AOCI other than FCTA*, was $49.53 per share, up 5 percent from $47.01 per share at December 31, 2013.

Full Year Results

For the full year 2014, MetLife reported operating earnings of $6.6 billion, up 5 percent over 2013. The increase reflects operating earnings growth of 7 percent in the Americas (8 percent on a constant currency basis), 4 percent in Asia (8 percent on a constant currency basis) and 10 percent in EMEA (16 percent on a constant currency basis). On a per share basis, 2014 operating earnings were $5.74, up 2 percent over 2013. MetLife reported full year 2014 net income of $6.2 billion, or $5.42 per share.

“Our full-year 2014 results demonstrated solid growth across all of our regions,” said Steven A. Kandarian, chairman, president and chief executive officer of MetLife, Inc. “MetLife continues to run its business to create long-term shareholder value. Our operating earnings per share have grown at a compound annual rate of 9.6 percent from 2011 through 2014, and our full-year 2014 operating return on equity reached 12 percent for the second year in a row.”

*Information regarding the non-GAAP financial measures included in this news release and the reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures to GAAP measures is provided in the Non-GAAP and Other Financial Disclosures discussion below, as well as in the tables that accompany this release and/or the Fourth Quarter 2014 Financial Supplement (which is available on the MetLife Investor Relations Web page at www.metlife.com).

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Fairfax To Acquire Brit PLC

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited ("Fairfax") (TSX:FFH)(TSX:FFH.U) announced that it has reached an agreement with Brit PLC ("Brit" or the "company") to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Brit (the "Brit Shares"). Brit is a market-leading global Lloyd's of London specialty insurer and reinsurer.

The full announcement (the "Announcement") is available for viewing on Fairfax's website at www.fairfax.ca/britoffer

Under the terms of Fairfax's offer for the Brit Shares (the "Offer"), Brit shareholders will be entitled to receive 305 pence in cash per Brit Share (the "Brit Offer Price"), inclusive of any final dividend for the year ended December 31, 2014. Fairfax has received hard irrevocable undertakings to accept the Offer at the Brit Offer Price from entities managed by Apollo and CVC in respect of, in the aggregate, a total of approximately 294 million Brit Shares representing approximately 73% of Brit's issued share capital. These entities have undertaken to accept the Offer following the posting of the Offer document. The Brit Offer Price represents a premium of 11.2% to the closing price of 274.2 pence per Brit Share on February 16, 2015, being the last full business day prior to this announcement. The aggregate purchase price payable by Fairfax for the Offer is approximately US$1.88 billion.

On February 12, 2015, Fairfax announced 2014 earnings of approximately US$1.6 billion. Excluding the final dividend expected to be declared by the board of directors of Brit for the year ended December 31, 2014 in an amount of 25 pence per Brit Share, Fairfax's purchase price of 280 pence per Brit Share is less than ten times the company's earnings based on the company's annualized net earnings for the six months ended June 30, 2014. The acquisition is accretive to Fairfax on several metrics including gross revenue per share and investments per share. Fairfax has built a strong relationship with the Brit team and an understanding of their business and operations since the acquisition of Brit's runoff business in June, 2012.

"We welcome Mark Cloutier and his market leading specialty insurance and reinsurance team at Brit to our expanding global specialty platform," said Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax. "Brit has an outstanding track record over the last ten years and will continue to operate on a decentralized basis once owned by Fairfax. With the acquisition of Brit, Fairfax will have a significant top five position at Lloyds of London. We look forward to working with Mark and the entire Brit team to further develop their business over the longer-term."

Brit's position as a market-leading global specialty insurer and reinsurer, its major presence in Lloyd's and its disciplined approach to underwriting make it a natural candidate to join Fairfax's expanding worldwide specialty operations. Brit's growing US and international reach are highly complementary to Fairfax's existing worldwide operations and the acquisition further diversifies Fairfax's group risk portfolio.

In addition, Brit will be able to leverage Fairfax's expertise in the US and international insurance and reinsurance markets, thus enhancing Brit's global product offering and providing it with expanded underwriting opportunities and support. The Offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including customary competition and merger conditions, and the approval of the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK, Lloyd's of London and the Financial Services Commission of Gibraltar. It is intended that the transaction be effected by way of takeover offer under section 974 of the UK Companies Act 2006 and the Code on Takeovers issued by the UK Takeover Panel. The Offer Document and the Form of Acceptance accompanying the Offer Document will be published (save with the consent of the Panel) within 28 days.

The Offer Document and accompanying Form of Acceptance will be made available on Fairfax's website at www.fairfax.ca/britoffer

Fairfax is a financial services holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and investment management.

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Global Reinsurer Capital Reaches New Peak Of USD570 Billion At June 30, 2014

Aon Benfield launches the latest edition of its Aon Benfield Aggregate (ABA) report, which analyzes the financial results of the world's leading reinsurers in the first half of 2014.

Aon Benfield Analytics estimates that global reinsurer capital reached a record level of USD570 billion at June 30, 2014, an increase of 6% (USD30 billion) relative to December 31, 2013.

This calculation is a broad measure of capital available for insurers to trade risk with and includes both traditional and non-traditional forms of reinsurance capital. The firm's latest study found that capital reported by the ABA group of 31 leading reinsurers increased by 4% (USD14 billion) to USD351 billion (62% of global reinsurer capital), driven primarily by USD18.6 billion of net income and USD9.4 billion of unrealized capital gains. The main offset was USD14.3 billion of dividends and share buybacks.

Further key findings relating to the 29 publicly-listed holding companies in the ABA* include:

  • Gross property and casualty (P&C) premiums rose by 4% to USD109 billion, with growth split evenly between insurance and reinsurance business.
  • The combined ratio rose by 0.4 percentage points to 90.3%, with P&C underwriting profit unchanged at USD7.9 billion.
  • Catastrophe losses declined relative to the prior year and were well below the long-term average.
  • Support from the favorable development of prior year reserves declined by 5% to USD2.8 billion.
  • Return on equity stood at 12.2% in the first half of 2014, the highest level since 2009.
  • Net catastrophe exposures are reducing as risk transfer to the capital markets increases via sidecars, insurance-linked securities and more cost effective retrocession cover.

Mike Van Slooten, Head of Aon Benfield's International Market Analysis team, said, "The influx of alternative capital is lowering risk transfer costs for both insurers and reinsurers, creating a win-win situation that should drive market expansion in the medium-term. Aon Benfield has made major advances in its analysis of reinsurers' financial performance in recent years, in response to growing insurer demand for strategic insight into longer-term industry trends. We are closely monitoring developments in what is a very dynamic environment. As such, peer studies such as the ABA report, which assess comparative performance on a timely basis, are becoming increasingly relevant."

* ABA reports are produced on a half-yearly basis and cover the reported results of 31 major reinsurers worldwide, with the aim of identifying the latest trends in the P&C reinsurance marketplace. The study comprises 29 publicly-listed holding companies ('the listed ABA') and two US-domiciled subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway, namely National Indemnity Company (NICO) and General Reinsurance Corporation (Gen Re). NICO entered into a significant intra-group reinsurance transaction with GEICO Group effective January 1, 2014, which has had a material impact on its reported results. To provide a more meaningful picture of the sector's underlying performance, many of the charts and ratios now focus on the listed ABA.

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Aetna International Appoints European Sales Manager To Drive Expansion

Aetna International, the leading international private medical insurance provider, has added to the company’s European broker team by hiring Beatriz Biosca as their European sales manager.

Biosca is Spanish by birth, grew up in Luxembourg and Brussels and is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Italian. After training as a clinical physiologist, she worked at Globality Health and Mercer Health management consulting in a variety of international claims, analysis and European account management roles.

“We were keen to add to our European team and Beatriz was the perfect combination of knowledge and experience,” said Aetna’s global head of distribution, Nic Brown. “Beatriz will be building on Aetna’s existing relationships with brokers in Europe and developing new partnerships throughout the region.”

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July Passenger Travel Shows Strong Growth

Global passenger traffic results for July 2014 show demand growth of 5.3% (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) over the previous July. Capacity expanded exactly in tandem with demand (5.3%), resulting in a global load factor of 82.3%, unchanged from last year.

“July was another strong month of growth for air travel. People are connecting by air in ever greater numbers. That’s true across all regions. Despite the various economic challenges, the outlook for passenger travel remains broadly positive. The overall sluggishness at the beginning of the year appears to be behind us with growth in China and other emerging economies offsetting recent deterioration in the Eurozone,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

International Passenger Markets

July international passenger demand rose by 5.5% compared to the same month in 2013. This was outstripped by a capacity expansion of 6.2% which resulted in a slight weakening of the load factor to 81.9% (down 0.5 percentage points from the year-ago period, but still at a very high level).

European carriers reported growth of 5.3% in July compared to a year ago. Capacity expanded slightly more aggressively at 5.6%, but the region still reported a very high load factor of 85.1%. While this is a robust performance, latest indicators show a weakening in key European economies such as Germany reflecting the impact of sanctions associated with the deepening Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Asia Pacific airlines are benefitting from an improved economic environment. Demand growth was slightly above the global average at 5.6% which lagged a capacity increase of 6.8%. Load factor fell 0.9 percentage points to 78.9%. The biggest factor affecting demand developments is the response of the Chinese economy to stimulus measures which saw year-on-year GDP growth reach 7.5% in July.

North American airlines saw international demand grow by 2.9%--the slowest of all regions. Capacity expansion was nearly double that at 5.6%; nonetheless the load factor stood at 85.1%. Overall business conditions are the strongest since mid-2010, which bodes well for the region’s carriers.

Airlines in the Middle East recorded the strongest growth at 9.2%. This was ahead of a capacity expansion of 8.2%. Load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 78.0%. The carriers are benefitting from the strength of regional economies and solid growth in business-related premium travel.

Latin American carriers reported growth of 6.7%, in line with a 6.6% capacity increase. Load factors stood at 82.5%. Robust economic performance in Colombia, Peru and Chile is being offset by weakness in Brazil. Furthermore, regional trade volumes are not expanding, the impact of which has been a dialing down of travel demand from the 8% growth range experienced in 2013.

African airlines reported growth of 4.9%, reversing the year-on-year contraction experienced in June. With capacity rising 4.5%, load factor improved slightly to 70.2%. The biggest factor impacting international traffic demand in July was the slowdown of the South African economy.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa intensified towards the end of July, the impact of which will likely be seen in August.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Demand on domestic routes rose by 4.9% in July over the previous year, ahead of a 3.5% capacity increase, pushing load factor up 1.1 percentage points to 83.0%.

The strongest growth was recorded in China (8.8%) and Russia (9.9%). Russian airlines saw the strongest growth rate among major domestic markets at 9.9%. While the Russia-Ukraine crisis has seen a slowdown in the Russian economy, domestic demand grew as a result of a significant reduction in fares.

India’s domestic market increased by a solid 6.0% in July over the previous year. This could be an early sign of the success of the new government’s business-friendly stance. However, the government’s July budget announcement showed little spending stimulus which could keep India’s growth trend below the pace of other emerging markets.

The Bottom Line

“Airlines reported growth in July, which is a positive story for the global economy. Robust economic conditions support the expansion of travel. In turn connectivity stimulates economic growth and creates jobs. It’s a tried and tested virtuous circle. And the expectation is for continued solid growth over the remainder of 2014,” said Tyler. “We cannot ignore, however, the risks that could de-rail this trajectory. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, weakness in the Eurozone, hostilities in Eastern Ukraine and instability in the Middle East loom large. Airlines are on track to record a profit of some $18 billion this year. But that is a net profit margin of just 2.4% which does not provide much of a buffer. So it is critical that governments shore-up connectivity with business friendly policies based on reasonable taxation, cost-efficient infrastructure and smart regulation.”

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Marsh Canada Acquires Kocisko Insurance Brokers Inc.

Marsh Canada, a subsidiary of Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management, announced today the acquisition of Kocisko Insurance Brokers Inc., a full-service commercial insurance brokerage based in Montreal, Quebec.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Kocisko focuses on providing commercial insurance and risk management solutions to construction and surety operations throughout the province of Quebec. The Kocisko team will join Marsh Canada’s National Construction and Surety Practice, and will be based in Marsh’s Montreal location.

“I’m delighted to welcome Terry Kocisko and his talented and experienced team of construction and surety specialists to Marsh,” said Alan Garner, president & CEO, Marsh Canada Limited. “This addition enables us to offer greater resources and a broader platform to serve the needs of construction clients in Quebec.”

“Becoming a part of Marsh Canada Limited is a terrific evolution for Kocisko,” said Terry Kocisko, CEO of Kocisko. “Our clients will benefit from the tremendous service and broader array of capabilities and resources that Marsh has to offer.”

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Bumrungrad Eyes China Healthcare Market

The second largest hospital operator in Thailand, Bumrungrad Hospital Pcl, is currently seeking international opportunities, with a view to expand in China, Myanmar and Vietnam. The news breaks following the domestic political crisis in Thailand, which has prompted the operator to cut its revenue target this year.

CEO Dennis Brown told major media that following months of political unrest the hospital operator cut the 2014 revenue growth target to between 7 and 10% from 10 to 15%.

The issues surrounding the political stability of Thailand were further represented by the hospitals international patient figures. In the 1st half of 2014 foreign patients, who account for approx. 60% of revenue, fell 12% for outpatients and 8% for inpatients.

"We anticipate between 7 to 10 % growth this year. Normally, we expect 10 to 15 %," Brown confirmed.

Fast facts:

  • Bumrungrad began international expansion in 1997, following Asia's financial crisis;
  • In March 2014 Bumrungrad acquired a 41% stake in a Mongolian hospital;
  • Has cash of about 6 Billion Baht;
  • Has set a budget of about 600 Million Baht a year to spend on equipment replacement and new machines.

China Healthcare Market Opens Up

With recent news from Beijing confirming that international investors may now wholly own a 100% of hospitals and elderly care homes in China, without a joint venture, Brown is excited at the opportunity to invest in China.

Over the years, Beijing has slowly opened the doors to overseas investment, allowing foreign investors to own 70% in past hospital joint ventures.

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