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• On January 18 Argo Group International Holdings announced a preliminary pre-tax catastrophe loss estimate for the three-month period ended December 31, 2018 of $32 million, primarily related to Hurricane Michael and the California Wildfires. The company also said that the Fourth Quarter 2018 results will be impacted by higher than expected current accident year losses of approximately $12 million, including several discrete Marine and Energy claims. Argo’s shares fell 1.3 percent after the announcement.
• On January 30 Cayman domiciled Alibaba Group Holding Limited quarterly earnings beat expectations after an expansion into areas like cloud computing. Net income at China’s biggest e-commerce company rose 37 percent to 33.1 billion yuan in Fourth Quarter 2018, outpacing the 22.1 billion yuan projected. Revenue rose 41 percent, the slowest pace in more than two years. Cloud revenue rose 84 percent in the quarter. The shares of Alibaba increased by 6.3 percent on the day.
• On February 8 Bermuda-based Essent Group reported net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2018 of $128.5 million, which includes a reduction of $9.9 million on the loss reserve established in the Fourth Quarter of 2017 for defaulted loans related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The chairman and CEO cited continued growth in the high credit quality and profitable mortgage insurance portfolio as the reason for strong quarter. The shares of the mortgage reinsurer rose 1.3 percent after the result.
• On February 19 the Bank of N.T. Butterfield and Son Limited announced financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2018. Net income for the year was $3.50 per diluted common share, compared to $2.76 per diluted common share for the year ended December 31, 2017. Butterfield’s CEO said “strong risk-adjusted returns benefited from a profitable and highly rated investment portfolio, a conservatively underwritten loan book, diversified fee income and diligent management of expenses.” The stock rose 12.9 percent after the earnings report.
luxury giant LVMH announced that it had completed an acquisition of Bermudian-domiciled high-end hotel operator Belmond Ltd (formerly Orient- Express Hotels) for US$2.6 billion. Belmond is the owner of New York’s “21” Club power restaurant, 30 high-end resorts, and luxury experience tours. The transaction is LVMH’s largest since taking full control of Christian Dior for more than $7 billion in 2017 and pushes LVMH further into services. Belmond’s shares surged by almost 40 percent in New York trading on the news.
• On March 12 Bermuda was added to the list of ‘non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes’ by the Council of the European Union. The EU also added Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Vanuatu, stating that the “jurisdictions did not implement the commitments they had made to the EU by the agreed deadline.” The list is intended to contribute to ongoing efforts to prevent tax avoidance and promote good tax governance worldwide. The Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) fell 5.2 percent in response to the announcement by the EU.