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Berkshire Hathaway Speciality ‘in no rush’

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Chris Colahan says he is still getting used to his US-style title of regional “President” of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) for Australia and New Zealand – but the good news is, he will have plenty of time to do so.

“Patience is going to be a virtue for us,” he told today.

“We don’t have to move quickly to pay the bills, and we’re not interested in gaining short-term market share for the sake of it.

“We are taking a long-term view. Our ambition is to be a meaningful player in the Australian market and our success will be measured by the franchise we build here.”

BHSI, an offshoot of US investment giant Berkshire Hathaway, was last week granted a licence by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to provide all lines of general insurance here.

It has based its operation in Sydney and is sharing premises with Berkshire Hathaway Insurance, led by CEO Australia and New Zealand Blair Nicholls. The plan is for the two businesses to eventually operate from separate premises in the city.

Mr Colahan, an Australian, was most recently CEO Asia for British insurer RSA.

He joined RSA in London in 2005 as a strategy analyst, and was later promoted through the group to become country manager for retail in Singapore and CEO for Hong Kong, before being appointed to lead RSA’s regional operations for Asia in 2012.

Mr Colahan resigned from RSA last September and returned to Australia to join BHSI.

As reported in our Breaking News bulletin on Friday, the BHSI leadership team includes CFO and COO Australasia Frank Costigan, Head of Executive and Professional Lines Australasia Cameron McLisky and Head of Human Resources Australasia Anne O’Keefe.

Australian department heads are Susan Donaldson (claims), Andrew Spurr (casualty) and Craig Taylor (property).

Managers are Matthew Clarke (professional indemnity lines), Daniel Cole (mining, energy and power), Mark Dixon (marine insurance) and Ryan Thomas (directors’ and officers’ liability).

Recruiting the leadership team was a positive experience for Mr Colahan.

“We have been delighted with the response from potential candidates who were attracted to the Berkshire Hathaway brand in Australia. We have been able to recruit from the top shelf.

“The Australian market is a very attractive market when it comes to attracting leadership talent.”