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QBE puts LMI float on hold

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QBE has put the planned float of its lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI) business on hold.

CFO Pat Regan told the Macquarie Australian investment conference last week that preparation for a float continues, and the business has re-signed a major customer in March.

QBE announced last August it would float its LMI operation but keep a majority stake.

Mr Regan told the conference the group is evaluating options to optimise value from the business.

He says QBE Group will focus on delivering “no surprises” over the next year.

There has been a “significant reset” of the group executive, with a 30% “refresh” of senior executives in the past two years.

QBE’s remediation is largely complete, particularly in North America and Europe, but its attritional claims ratio – a measure of underwriting profitability – remains a key focus.

The insurer defines the ratio as all claims with a net cost below $US2.5 million ($3.15 million) as a percentage of net earned premium.

Mr Regan says QBE’s expense ratio is 2-3% above global peers, and additional cost savings remain a priority.

The insurer also plans to expand its operations in the Philippines, where it has a large support services operation. It is targeting better profitability in North and Latin America.

The North American business has been restructured as a commercial specialty insurer, and the crop business has been “significantly restructured”, with exposure to hail reduced by a quota-share arrangement and increased use of data analytics.

Mr Regan says US lenders’ placed mortgage insurance – in which banks buy mortgage cover for homebuyers – is generating a significant run-rate loss and the company is evaluating options to mitigate the impact.