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CBL Insurance chronology

This page sets out a chronology of CBL Insurance Ltd, from the time we issued its full insurance licence in September 2013 until it was placed in liquidation by the High Court in 2018.

2010 to 2017

The Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act was passed in September 2010, requiring all insurers to be licensed to carry on business in New Zealand. We became the prudential regulator of the insurance sector.

We issued a full insurance licence to CBL Insurance Limited (CBLI) in September 2013 and CBLI’s parent company, CBL Corporation, listed on the NZX and ASX in October 2015.

In mid-2017, European insurers that were heavily reliant on reinsurance from CBLI started running into difficulties with European insurance regulators, due to not having enough money in reserves. It followed that CBLI’s reserves might also be inadequate. We sought an explanation from CBLI. Its response was to criticise the analysis relied on by the European insurance regulators.

In July 2017, we directed CBLI to maintain solvency of at least 170% of the standard minimum.

In August 2017, we appointed investigators to look into CBLI’s European business and whether its reserves were adequate. CBLI was not able to comply with the solvency direction and, in late 2017, to avoid deterioration of CBLI’s situation, we directed CBLI to not make payments of more than $5 million without consulting us.

2018

In February 2018, CBLI asked us to allow it to disclose the directions and investigation, which we immediately agreed to do. CBL Corporation announced losses and disclosed that regulators in Europe and New Zealand were investigating and closely supervising its insurance activities. Both the NZX and ASX suspended trading in CBL Corporation shares.

At the same time, we became aware CBLI had made payments to offshore counterparties, in breach of the regulatory directions. Its appointed actuary also confirmed that CBLI’s solvency ratio was below 100%.

On our application, the High Court appointed interim liquidators, whose duty was to preserve the assets of the company.

CBLI’s liabilities as at 30 June 2017 were estimated by the investigators to be understated by $289 million. On this basis, CBLI was clearly balance sheet insolvent, as well as being a long way below regulatory minimum solvency standards. Other information came to light during the course of the interim liquidation that highlighted problems with the way CBLI was run and its financial position.

On 12 November 2018, the High Court appointed permanent liquidators to CBLI.

Timeline details

Pre-2017

14 February 2012

CBL Insurance Limited (CBLI) was granted a provisional insurance licence under the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act (IPSA).

4 September 2013

CBLI was granted a full insurance licence under IPSA.

13 October 2015

CBL Corporation Ltd was listed on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges (NZX and ASX).

21 June 2016

Meeting with CBLI in which we expressed concerns about reserving levels.

2017

June 2017

A draft PWC (UK) report was commissioned by the regulator of Gibraltar-based Elite Insurance (Elite) identified material under-reserving by Elite. This raised questions about the adequacy of CBLI’s reserving for its reinsurance of Elite.

14 June 2017

We sought information from CBLI about its French business, as at 31 December 2016, and a description of any other insurance or reinsurance business of CBL for which Elite or Alpha is either cedant or reinsurer.

23 June 2017

The Central Bank of Ireland issued directions to CBL Insurance Europe (CBLIE).

July 2017

CBLI provided us and the Central Bank of Ireland with information relating to the reserves of its French business.

July 2017

Alpha Insurance Limited (Alpha) was required by its regulator to substantially increase its provisions for claims. CBLIE was directed by Central Bank of Ireland to withhold payment of reinsurance premiums from CBLI.

5 July 2017

Elite went into solvent run-off. PWC (UK)’s report noted that Elite’s financial position was heavily dependent on its reinsurance by CBLI.

25 July 2017

We directed CBL to maintain a solvency ratio of 170%. At the time, CBLI was reporting a 179% solvency ratio. We directed CBLI to not enter into any transaction or series of transactions without our permission that provide new or increased levels of financial support to any insurer or reinsurer that was not currently owned by CBL Corporation.

21 August 2017

We appointed McGrathNicol to investigate the financial position of CBLI, and directed CBLI to maintain a solvency margin of 170%.

5 September 2017

We appointed Finity Consulting Pty Ltd (a trans-Tasman actuarial firm) and Milliman (a global actuarial firm) as actuarial experts to report on CBLI’s reserve adequacy and assist the McGrathNichol investigation.

17 September 2017

CBLI requested permission to increase its reinsurance of Elite from 80% to 100% in respect of all past business.

26 September 2017

We declined CBLI’s request to increase its reinsurance of Elite.

29 September 2017

CBLI’s half-yearly solvency return showed a solvency ratio of 132% as at 30 June 2017.

14 November 2017

We were notified that CBL group was investigating restructuring options and a potential balance sheet reinsurance protection proposal for CBLI.

15 November 2017

CBLI and its appointed actuary informed us that CBLI was not likely to maintain its solvency margin of 170% at 31 December 2017.

22 November 2017

We directed that before entering any transaction or series of related transactions involving payment or transfer of assets in excess of NZ$5 million, CBLI and/or its parent company CBL Corporation Limited must consult with us about its circumstances and about the transaction and any other actions or proposed actions it intended to take in resolving its difficulties.

2018

3 January 2018

CBL announced its subsidiary Securities and Financial Solutions Europe (SFS) had been fined €5,000 by the Luxembourg regulator, after it determined that SFS had been operating outside aspects of its authority as an insurance agent.

2 February 2018

Upon request from CBLI, we permitted CBLI to disclose our directions and the appointment of McGrathNichol, Finity and Milliman as investigators.

2 February 2018

The NZX and ASX halted trading of CBL Corporation Ltd shares.

5–6 February 2018

CBL Corporation announced to NZX and ASX a forecast loss of NZ$75–85 million after tax and arising from an increase in reserves for its French business of $100 million, and a $44 million write-off of receivables through SFS. CBLI stated that a capital raising would soon be proposed.

7 February 2018

CBLI informed the market that:

  • the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) had started a supervisory engagement process in respect of CBLIE
  • we had appointed independent investigators, imposed restrictions on trading and set a solvency ratio in 2017
  • AM Best had downgraded the issuer credit rating of CBL from BBB- to BB+, CBLI’s financial strength from A- to B++ and long-term issuer credit rating from A- to BBB+.

8 February 2018

The NZX suspended trading of CBL Corporation shares pending announcement of 2017 financial results.

12 February 2018

We directed CBLI not to make a payment of €25 million to Alpha, which it had proposed, or to enter into any other transaction or series of related transactions involving payment or transfer of assets of NZ$1 million or more to Alpha or any other companies in the Alpha Group, without our written permission.

12 February 2018

CBL Corporation asked ASX to suspend trading in its securities.

14 February 2018

CBL announced it would withdraw from its French construction business in April 2018, and that it had recourse against the vendors of SFS on its balance sheet for around NZ$40 million.

14–15 February 2018

CBLI made three separate payments to United Specialty Insurance Company (USA) of just under NZ$5 million, without informing or consulting us.

16 February 2018

CBLI made a payment of €25 million to Alpha.

17 February 2018

The Finity and Milliman actuaries issued their draft reports concluding CBLI had a shortfall of NZ$294 million from our imposed solvency standards.

19 February 2018

The Central Bank of Ireland directed CBLIE to cease underwriting new business with immediate effect until it had resolved its issues to the Central Bank’s satisfaction. CBLIE announced it was seeking legal advice to challenge the regulator’s directive.

20–21 February 2018

CBLI verbally advised us that CBLI’s solvency ratio was below 100%.

21 February 2018

We sought information from CBLI about any payment or transfer of assets made on or after 1 February 2018 for NZ$1 million or more by either CBLI, CBL Corporation or any of its subsidiaries.

CBLI reported that from 14–20 February it had made various payments totalling around NZ$55 million to Alpha and United Specialty.

23 February 2018

The High Court appointed interim liquidators to CBLI on the grounds that CBLI was failing to maintain its solvency margin and breached the 12 February 2018 direction not to make a payment of €25 million to Alpha.

12 November 2018

The High Court appointed liquidators to CBLI.