MS Amlin owner to ramp up London underwriting capacity

Stay informed with free updates

The Japanese owner of Lloyd’s of London underwriter MS Amlin plans to boost its underwriting capacity in the capital’s specialist market by half to £3bn in the next five years, as it invests in the UK hub over rivals in the EU and US.

Shinichiro Funabiki, chief executive of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, told the Financial Times the company had decided to focus its investment plans on the UK because of London’s primacy in analysing complex global risks, from supertankers to satellites.

London was “still . . . very investable” despite Brexit and political instability, he added. “The fact that insurance grew here as an industry and as a business, it means that there is so much history and expertise, experience, skills, knowhow that is fostered here in the UK . . . and I would, as a business leader, never undervalue that.”

Mitsui Sumitomo, which this month celebrates the 100th anniversary of its investment in London, plans over the next half-decade to reach £3bn in stamp capacity — a measure of the business it underwrites — in Lloyd’s and the so-called company market that surrounds it.

The move would cement the group as one of the biggest underwriters in the London market.

This year, the company will write around £2bn of business within Lloyd’s itself. It has also rebranded another subsidiary, MSI Europe, as MSIG UK to help build up its position in the company market outside of Lloyd’s and reduce the unit’s traditional reliance on serving Japanese clients. It plans to hire more expert underwriters and invest in its technology platform too, Funabiki said.

“We are now ready to . . . invest more into MS Amlin and use it as a driver to lead our international growth going forward,” Funabiki said. He hailed a recovery in the unit, which posted an underwriting profit in 2022 for the first time since its takeover of the group.

When Mitsui Sumitomo struck the deal to buy UK-listed Amlin in 2015 for £3.5bn, it was hailed as transforming the overseas operations of the Japanese group by giving it a platform to expand outside Asia.

Mergers and acquisitions were “on the table” again as part of the group’s international push, Funabiki told the FT this month. Both large-scale and bolt-on global acquisitions were options, he said. 

The Amlin unit was fined by the Prudential Regulation Authority in 2022 for risk-management failures that began before Mitsui Sumitomo’s ownership. Funabiki said it had since worked “vigorously” to improve checks and balances and strike a “better balance between our risk-taking activities and our risk controls and risk management”.

Funabiki also praised UK regulators, which have come under criticism from lawmakers and lobby groups for being slow in approving new insurance securities, as “very knowledgeable and . . . always willing to make the necessary changes to keep up with the changes we are seeing in the market”.