Transatlantic Holdings, Inc (



Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 12:00 am ET


Tom Cholnoky - SVP, IR

Bob Orlich - CEO

Mike Sapnar - President

Steve Skalicky - EVP & CFO


Josh Shanker - Deutsche Bank

Ron Bobman - Capital Returns

John Hall - Wells Fargo



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Good day and welcome to the Third Quarter 2011 Transatlantic Holdings, Inc. Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions) After today’s presentation there will be an opportunity to ask questions. (Operator Instructions) Please note this event is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Tom Cholnoky, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations. Mr. Cholnoky, please go ahead sir.

Tom Cholnoky

Thank you. Good morning and welcome to Transatlantic Holdings’ earnings conference call to discuss results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2011. You can access a copy of our press release and accompanying financial supplement on the Investor Information page of our corporate website at

Leading today’s call will be Bob Orlich, Chief Executive Officer; Mike Sapnar, President and Steve Skalicky, our Chief Financial Officer. After prepared comments, we will open the call for questions.

Before we begin, I note that we will refer to certain non-GAAP financial and operating measures on today’s call. We provide reconciliations of those figures to their most directly comparable GAAP measures in our press release and supplement. In addition, comments made on today’s call may contain forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on current assumptions and opinions concerning a variety of known and unknown risks. Actual results may differ materially from those contained in or suggested by such forward-looking statements.

Transatlantic’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission contain a description of the business environment in which Transatlantic operates and the important factors, risks and uncertainties that may affect its business and financial results.

With that, I will turn the call over to Bob Orlich.

Bob Orlich

Thanks, Tom, and good morning everyone. Before we discuss our third quarter results and our outlook, I want to briefly comment on our strategic review process. On September 16th, we announced the Transatlantic and Allied World mutually terminated our merger agreement. Although the Allied World merger offered strategic and financial benefits, ultimately it became clear that our stockholders would not approve this transaction.

We have said that we will entertain and evaluate any serious proposal or opportunities that offer our stockholders full and fair value. We have entered into confidentiality agreements and discussions with Validus and two other parties regarding potential alternative transactions. We appreciate the dialog we’ve had with our stockholders over the pass few months and want to emphasize that our Board is committed to delivering enhanced value via true transaction or on our standalone plan.

We continue to strongly believe in our standalone prospects and believe that we can deliver significant value by executing on our business plan. To that end, we announced on September 16 that our board approved $600 million share repurchase program, which added $455 million to the company’s then existing share repurchase authorization. Our plan calls for repurchasing $300 million worth of shares through December 31 and the remaining $300 million during 2012. Through October 21st, we have repurchased about a $165 million of our common stock under the new authorization.

We continue to be actively involved in the strategic review process, though there can be no assurance that the discussions currently under way will result in a proposal or a transaction. While we continue to be diligent and throughout our discussions we are also fully committed to reaching a conclusion to this process expeditiously.

With or without a transaction, we have a business to run and the January 1 renewal season is the most critical business period for any reinsurance company. Our teams in New York and on the grounds throughout the world are sharply focused on the job of serving our clients and partners, as always, and I want to thank everyone for their patience and professionalism during this period.

With those comments, we are now going to turn to the purpose of today’s call, we chose to discuss Transatlantic’s third quarter earnings results. After we have completed our prepared remarks, we ask you that you please limit your questions to our financial results. Thank you for your understanding.

Our results for the third quarter were largely in line with the ranges we pre-announced in mid September. The third quarter included a couple of important developments that significantly impact reported results. These include cost related to our strategic activities in the quarter including the termination fee and expense reimbursement paid to our growth as well as the arbitration settlement with the United Guaranty Company. That settlement is included in our underwritings results for the quarter and Steve will detail the impact in his comments.

Notwithstanding these developments, the quarter was generally solid in light of the active catastrophe environment and softer pricing conditions in other parts of the market. Book value per share at September 30 stood at $69.67, up about 3% from June 30 and up 1% from the year-ago third quarter.

We wrote over $950 million in net premiums and produced net operating income per diluted share of $0.93. Our annualized operating ROE was 5.5%. Our combined ratio for the quarter was 94.3, roughly flat with the year-ago third quarter. As we get into the busy 11 renewal season market conditions and rates remain relatively consistent with the trends that have been in place throughout the year. Mike will speak to the underwriting climate in more detail, but overall it remains a challenging market that requires focus, discipline and strong underwriting expertise.

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