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Arch rebrands Watford Re as Somers Re, CEO Levy departs

somers re logo with cunningham.jpg

Arch has confirmed that Watford Re CEO Jonathan Levy has left and is being replaced by chief risk officer Liz Cunningham, after an announcement that its newly acquired Watford Holdings will be rebranded to Somers Group Holdings.

Arch announced the rebrand for Watford Holdings and Watford Re, along with the new CEO role for Cunningham, on Thursday in a joint press release with private equity partners Warburg Pincus and Kelso & Company. Levy’s departure was confirmed separately to Inside P&C.

Like Levy, Cunningham is an actuary by background and has been in the industry for nearly 20 years.

Before joining Watford in January of last year, Cunningham spent three years as the chief risk officer of Deloitte-owned Nautilus Indemnity Company. Before that, she worked as a partner in the risk and analytics group for Deloitte in Bermuda.

Levy had taken up his post last year when founding CEO John Rathgeber retired.

Alongside Cunningham’s appointment, Sioned Butler has been named Somers Re CFO, having most recently served as Watford Re’s controller. Butler previously worked as an auditor at KPMG.

The rebrand to Somers Re is a nod to Sir George Somers, who founded the island of Bermuda in 1609.

According to a statement by the ownership consortium, Watford's renaming is intended to reflect a move away from the company’s original total return strategy that was established when it was launched in 2014.

Moving forward, Somers Re will focus on leveraging Arch’s underwriting expertise, the announcement said, while pursuing a more conservative investment strategy.

“After seven years operating under the Watford name, reestablishing the company as Somers Re marks a new chapter for the franchise,” said Maamoun Rajeh, Arch’s chairman and CEO for reinsurance, who sits on the board of Somers Group Holdings.

“Liz and Sioned bring fresh perspectives and strong leadership to the company, while maintaining institutional knowledge and continuity from their time in Watford. I am also pleased to remain engaged with our long-term partner, Highbridge Principal Strategies, as our primary investment manager.”

The statement went on to say that the new strategy and financial backing had led ratings agency AM Best to affirm the outlook on Somers’ A- financial strength rating (FSR) as “stable”.

The management changes and rebrand come after Arch agreed to buy Watford last year, after shareholders revolted against the reinsurer’s previous strategy.

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