Yes, it really is spelt Tokio Marine, and they have to stick with it because there is a shipping company called Tokyo Marine. Tokio Marine Holdings is historically part of the Mitsubishi group of companies, founded in 1879 as Japan’s first non-life insurance company. The President, Tsuyoshi Nagano, was appointed in 2013 and seems determined to carry on his predecessor’s overseas M&A strategy, which included the acquisition of UK Lloyd’s underwriters Kiln, for £442m in 2007. He explains in a recent interview with Nikkei Business that overseas acquisitions are not just for growth, but also to spread Tokio Marine’s own risk, avoiding the “all your eggs in one basket” of business being too focused on earthquake, typhoon and volcano prone Japan.
Currently overseas business represents around 1/3 of Tokio Marine’s insurance premiums and around 40% of profit. “Domestic growth, if we did nothing proactive, would be around 0-1% a year, or 2-3% if we take a more proactive stance. Overseas growth is around 7-8%.” Around half of the overseas profit is from the US. Nagano is now looking at developing markets for further growth, but is still interested in finding further good partners in North America or Europe. Tokio Marine has three regional holding companies in North America and Europe, and some profits are retained for further investment, and to protect against currency fluctuations.
Nagano believes that the longevity of Japanese companies (there are over 3100 Japanese companies who have survived more than 200 years) is to do with their focus on “how to make sure customers choose us, rather than how do we sell”. The same approach will hold for overseas, he says – to be the company of choice, a company that is useful and “plays a part” in the region, upholding the Group Message of “To be a Good Company”.
“It’s not enough for me to say nice words” Nagano admits – in-house training is needed, and to that end around 20 future leaders are selected each year from around the world, who undertake training in the US, UK and Japan. The Japanese part includes a discussion with Nagano himself, and a visit to the Tohoku area to see for themselves the devastation caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and meet the people impacted by what happened.
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