By Aluisio Alves
Brazilian reinsurer IRB Brasil Resseguros SA is in advanced negotiations to buy rivals' portfolios in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America as foreign competitors scale back in the region, two sources close to the company told Reuters.
Any such acquisition would be a bold move for IRB given that the reinsurer revealed last week it was being inspected by the country's insurance regulator for potential liquidity problems as it fell short of assets to cover technical provisions.
The inspection was the latest headwind to hit the insurer, which earlier this year replaced both its chief executive and chief financial officer after false reports that Berkshire Hathaway Inc's had acquired a stake.
IRB shares have lost about 80% this year but the sources said it has maintained a cash position of around 4 billion reais, including liquid assets.
With the region's economy side-swiped by the coronavirus-linked economic crisis, some global reinsurers are leaving or decreasing operations in Latin America to focus on their main markets in the United States and Europe, one source said, without revealing names.
"IRB is negotiating the purchase of portfolios and making alliances with more insurers," another source said, requesting anonymity, because the matter is not public.
Although there are about a hundred reinsurers authorized to operate in Brazil, IRB holds a roughly 40% market share, with other top players including Munich Re, Swiss Re AG and Chubb Ltd.
In coming weeks, IRB will reveal more details on issues including technical provisions ahead of its first quarter results, scheduled for June 18, according to one of the sources.
IRB said in a statement that "it is constantly assessing possible operations in Brazil and abroad that are in line with its business strategy."
Asked about potential disclosures about balance sheet-related issues, IRB said "it will timely communicate facts or decisions judged by companies that are of interest to its shareholders, customers and the market."
(Por Aluísio Alves; Editing by Nick Zieminski)