Tower says it has a deal to pay $13 million for the 34,000 policies issued by Youi in this country; Tower to raise $47 million to pay for purchase and to boost its own solvency position

Tower says it has a deal to pay $13 million for the 34,000 policies issued by Youi in this country; Tower to raise $47 million to pay for purchase and to boost its own solvency position

NZX-listed insurer Tower says it's agreed a deal to pay $13 million to buy all of Youi's New Zealand policies and will be undertaking a $47 million capital raise partly to fund the acquisition and partly to assist its own solvency position.

The boost to Tower's solvency position will be required as from October 31 the Reserve Bank has said it will be removing from Tower's solvency calculations a disputed $70 million receivable Tower has been claiming from the Earthquake Commission (EQC) in relation to the Canterbury earthquakes. 

Tower gave some details with its most recent half year result.

Chief executive of Tower Richard Harding said it was still Tower's intention to pursue the collection of the EQC receivable "to the maximum extent possible".

He said, however, that given the status of discussions and the nature of the EQC receivable, "it is likely that the dispute will proceed to litigation".

"We continue to be confident in the recovery of this receivable and while we have entered an alternative dispute resolution process, we are firmly committed to collection of the EQC receivable to the maximum extent possible," said Harding.

But he said given the increased likelihood of litigation and associated delay in receiving funds, it was appropriate to exclude the EQC receivable from Tower Insurance’s solvency calculations. Accordingly, the RBNZ has modified Tower Insurance’s licence conditions to remove the receivable from its solvency calculations with effect from 31 October 2019.

Under the Youi agreement, Tower Insurance will acquire Youi NZ’s approximately 34,000 in-force policies, with Tower policy renewals to be offered as current Youi NZ policies expire.

Tower said the purchase price of $13 million represents an 8% increase on Tower’s current NZ gross written premium (GWP).

The apparent exit from New Zealand by Youi ends an adventurous time in this country for the South African-based insurer after it made its entrance with aggressive advertising campaigns in 2013. 

A few years back it ran foul of NZ's regulators for using misleading sales tactics. 

Much of this activity was uncovered by freelance journalist Diana Clement. In articles appearing on the interest.co.nz website, Clement relayed her experiences and knowledge of what occurred in this article and also this one.

In the year to June, Youi's NZ arm reported a net profit after tax of $2.376 million, down from $10.801 million a year ago. It had total assets of just under $73 million, little changed from the previous year.

This is the full statement from Tower:

Tower Limited today announced that Tower Insurance Limited has signed a Portfolio Transfer Agreement for the purchase of Youi NZ Pty Ltd’s insurance portfolio, subject to regulatory approvals.

Under this agreement, Tower Insurance will acquire Youi NZ’s approximately 34,000 in-force policies for a total purchase price of NZ$13 million, with Tower policy renewals to be offered as current Youi NZ policies expire.

The purchase price of $13 million represents an 8% increase on Tower’s current NZ GWP.

Tower CEO, Richard Harding, says this acquisition will further accelerate the company’s growth ambitions and drive shareholder value.

"The purchase of Youi’s portfolio will assist us to accelerate our growth and we are now firmly positioned as a challenger brand focused on delivering good customer outcomes and value for our shareholders.

"Together with the successful implementation of the IT simplification programme currently underway, this investment will deliver growth, build scale and leverage the investment in IT," said Harding.

The agreement is subject to conditions, including approvals from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which are being sought to ensure completion before the end of 2019.

Tower notes that if the purchase proceeds, Youi customers will remain covered under their existing terms for the remainder of their contract. Youi customers will then receive the benefits of Tower Insurance’s award-winning, plain English policies, commitment to trust-both-ways and its risk-based approach to pricing.

Changing capital requirements and capital raise

Tower Insurance has consulted with RBNZ throughout to understand likely capital requirements to support the acquisition and on-going business of Youi NZ

Dialogue with RBNZ also included discussion of Tower Insurance’s existing solvency capital, with particular focus on Tower Insurance’s EQC receivable, which currently forms part of Tower Insurance’s solvency capital

Tower Insurance’s intention is to pursue the collection of the EQC receivable to the maximum extent possible.

Tower CEO, Richard Harding, says that given the status of discussions and the nature of the EQC receivable, it is likely that the dispute will proceed to litigation.

"We continue to be confident in the recovery of this receivable and while we have entered an alternative dispute resolution process, we are firmly committed to collection of the EQC receivable to the maximum extent possible," said Harding.

Given the increased likelihood of litigation and associated delay in receiving funds, it is appropriate to exclude the EQC receivable from Tower Insurance’s solvency calculations. Accordingly, the RBNZ has modified Tower Insurance’s licence conditions to remove the receivable from its solvency calculations with effect from 31 October 2019.

To facilitate the change in licence condition and the acquisition of the Youi NZ portfolio, Tower Limited will raise $47.2m capital via a pro-rata renounceable entitlement offer.

Capital will be raised via pro-rata renounceable entitlement offer at a ratio of 1 New Share for every 4 Existing Shares held at an issue price of NZ$0.56 (or AUD$0.54 for Eligible Australian Shareholders).

Business performance update for the 11 months to 31 August 2019

Tower advises that the ongoing transformation of the business is progressing well, with continued solid growth and positive trends being seen in key areas.

As a result of this solid performance, Tower has upgraded its FY19 guidance and is now expecting full year underlying NPAT1 to be approximately $28m, subject to normal volatility in its claims expense, and no further large events occurring.

Given the acquisition of Youi NZ, and accompanying capital raise, no dividend will be paid in 2019. Tower’s Board remains committed to resuming dividends, at 50-70% of Reported NPAT, where prudent to do so.

Solid growth continues

Ongoing efforts to simplify insurance and make things easier for customers is seeing Tower continue to achieve solid growth, with digital performance remaining elevated and retention levels stable.

In the 11 months to 31 August 2019, Gross Written Premium (GWP) in Tower’s core New Zealand book has grown at 9.6%, resulting in total GWP increasing to $325.8 million, compared to $306.8m in the same period last year.

Claims ratio favourable

Relatively benign weather, along with a continued focus on underwriting excellence has seen Tower’s claims expense ratio for the 11 months to 31 August 2019 decrease 8%, to 48.6%, from 56.6% in the same period last year.

As previously signaled, management expenses have trended slightly higher in the second half of the 2019 financial year. This slight increase is a result of finalisation of Tower’s technology upgrade and broader transformation activity.

Tower is pleased to advise that it has secured its 2020 reinsurance programme on good terms, with an increase in cover, at rates in line with the prior year.

Major technology upgrade progressing well

The first phase of Tower’s technology upgrade has launched with new business being sold on the new platform. Launch of the first phase has confirmed initial assumptions, with improved outcomes being delivered for customers and will result in increased efficiency.

Tower remains on track to deliver the second phase before the end of the 2019 calendar year, as previously advised. Phase two includes self-service, increased digital capability and the commencement of migration of customers to the new platform.

As the programme enters its final stages, there is some pressure on costs with total investment in its technology upgrade expected to be within 5-7% of the previously disclosed figure of $45m.

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Isn't this just what Thomas Cook tried in vain to do - buy its way out of trouble by taking on more debt ( $47 million capital raising for a $13 million purchase?)
Thomas Cook buys Essential Travel

The big difference is that Tower is a profitable business already delivering on its strategic objectives.

I'll take your word for that. I do recall that Tower won this sites "Woohoo!! We're still here!" award last Christmas...(ie: issues with the Christchurch Earthquake payouts a la AMI?)

Believe they were very very close to the brink. Somehow they concocted a $40mill loan from BNZ that rescued the wafer thin state of their ratios with the RBNZ. Always wonder who was the guarantor for that. And a lot of ACC & NZ Super shareholding activity propped up the share price, just enough. If in fact Tower are indeed now “financial” they are only so by dint of the NZ taxpayer. Reminds one of Air NZ a few years back doesn’t it!

Agree Tower has turned itself around, I remember the days when their bonds were junk, in my recent dealings with them , they certainly knew to ask the right questions.

I recently tried to get reinsurance with Tower, as part of a house purchase, and they politely said they were cutting back on risk, and therefore not insuring 100 yr old houses, yes its got a bit of borer, yes the piles are in old kerosene cans, and surprise surprise Youi, were only too happy to sign me up. AMI were not interested either. What Tower going to do now, follow through for a couple of years , and dump me, or wait till I sell and then repeat their standard line above, a very interesting case for the insurance ombudsman. Certainly makes one think twice about paying premiums to these guys.

They are raising equity, not debt.

Thomas Cook were dealing with much bigger numbers, plus they brought My Travel a couple of years before Essential Travel, but its the same game, collect margins and commissions to pay rent and staff plus a dividend to shareholders, there's not a lot of hard assets in there, the planes are all leased.

.

Tweet from Diana Clement:

YOUI ought never to have been granted a licence to operate in Godzone ..

.... their appalling track record in Australia should have sent the warning lights and sirens at the Commmerce Commission into a frenzy of red and wailing ...

Clear off , back to where youi come from !

They are so dodgy it's not funny.
I went on line to get a quote, at the last section they asked for your mobile number. Then the calls came through and they required your credit card number even before giving out quote. I gave them my prepaid Visa card number and the premium given was 80% than anyone else.. and the calls kept on coming for months.

. . they'd been trading in Australia for several years before coming to NZ ... I checked an Aussie website , and the howls of discontent with Youi was astonishing ... their satisfaction rating was easily the lowest of all insurers operating in Oz ... 'nuff said !

Absolutely any online company that claims to provide a 'quote' service and give every indication that if you fill out their form you will immediately receive a quote, only at the last section require you to talk to a human (either via phone or email) I immediately abandon. They're generally scams.

I understand that some situations require a human to really give a quote, so that should be stated up front, or the system should spit out a ballpark estimate before requiring you to talk to a human to finalise things.

Chairman Moa, when was this?

This was March this year. Check their FB page, piles of similar complaints.

The South Africans will have suffered a rinsing on this one after the amount they will have spent on advertising the Youi brand here. A real black mark on their ability to execute in new markets.

All they did well was to come to NZ and embarrass their fellow countrymen. Good riddance.

Great to see that being a bad business is still bad business :)

Huge respect for Diana Clement for a terrific effort holding them to account.