Evan Greenberg doesn’t mind putting his head above the parapet.
In the midst of the first wave of Covid-19 last April, the executive director of insurance company Chubb from New York opened the pages of opinions Wall Street Journal to warn of the risks of “unverified litigation for any coronavirus-related injury”.
Forcing insurers to cover pandemic-related losses not recorded in the contracts, he added, “would bankrupt the insurance industry to support other parts of the economy.”
Friends and business contacts say the 66-year-old insurance director, who has more than four decades of experience in the sector, has deliberately taken on the role of spokesman and is willing to accept what comes with it.
Defendant made him a target and I think he accepted that, but that resulted in everyone focusing on that issue, ”one said. “Evan concluded that this was a time when he personally had to step up.”
A longtime friend described him as “now in fact the leader of the American insurance industry. He has spent the last 15 years preparing for the role. He is very aware of that. ”
That preparation consisted of the flames of bargaining to build Chubba into America’s largest non-life insurer at market value, with more than 30,000 employees in 54 countries and territories.
After joining Ace from Zurich in 2001, he made a a stream of acquisitions spanning the globe before the group’s transformative deal to buy Chubba in 2015, while the augmented group retained the goal name.
Greenberg directed the takeover of $ 28 billion from his resort after breaking an ankle that fell off a horse.
Those who know him describe Greenberg as energetic and “strenuous”; he is also an avid cyclist, a friend said, both in New York and in Montana, where he always packs bear spray for the ride.
Precharging was not an option this week. Hartford Financial Services Group on Tuesday rdropped an offer of $ 65 per share from Chubba, saying “it would not be in the best interests of the company”.
But Hartford’s share price suggests the game is still ready: it’s still on the rise for more than a third this month, putting its market value at more than $ 24 billion – above Chubb’s unwanted bid of $ 23 billion.
The combination could add 9 percent to Chubb’s earnings per share, wrote Meyer Shields, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, in a note after the news of the proposal, concluding that the acquisition “makes significant sense … even at a higher price.”
Hartford’s army of small business clients is an opportunity to round out Chubb’s customer base, Shields later told the Financial Times. “Ace’s legacy side has much bigger accounts,” he said. “When they acquired what Chubb was, it provided more in the middle. Hartford is at a smaller end. ”
Greenberg’s business records make inevitable comparisons to his father, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, a 95-year veteran in the industry who turned AIG into the world’s largest insurer over four decades.
This elite New York family has “blood insurance,” said Professor Lawrence Cunningham of George Washington University, who wrote together AIG story with Greenberg Sr. in 2013.
Evan Greenberg and his brother Jeffrey both worked at AIG before continuing to run their own businesses, and Jeffrey Greenberg served for five years at the top of the Marsh McLennan insurance group.
“It was pretty clear that Hank wasn’t going to retire, so if you really wanted to run your own insurance company, you had to go somewhere else, and they both did,” Cunningham told FT.
Another legacy from his father was a strong global view. This runs strongly through Greenberg’s younger stock letters calling for the restoration of American capitalism as well as the encouragement of global trade.
“He is [was] brought up in an internationalist world, in a world where business leaders were statesmen, in a sense, ”Cunningham said. “They had a platform where they could talk.”
Mexico is one of the main targets. Greenberg was vocal defense of the North American Free Trade Agreement, when during the Trump administration there was doubt about the future of the trade pact, highlighting cross-border ties between Chubb’s U.S. and Mexican operations. “My advice to policy makers would be: don’t harm,” he said in 2018.
China is another market that he singled out as critical. Greenberg, a board member of the U.S.-China Business Council’s trade body, called for a “framework for cooperation in key areas and rules or understandings for competition and rivalry in others”.
His engagement with Chinese officials bore fruit when they were regulators approved in 2019 a legal change the structure of Huatai Insurance Group, which removed the obstacle for Chubba to take over the majority ownership.
“He wants to be so much more than a businessman,” a friend said. “He wants to be a leader, a thinker and someone who really thinks about America and America’s place in the world.”
Greenberg, who declined to comment on the article, is looking forward to the battle for ideas, according to those who did business with him.
“Evan likes a good argument,” one said. “He expects to win 90 percent of the arguments, and the other 10 percent expects to learn something.”
Hartford is currently sitting in the second category.