Berkshire's Specialty-Insurance Unit Opens Europe Operation

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  • Eastwood: Expansion to continent is a `natural next step'
  • Bolt, Koehler named to posts overseeing parts of Europe

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. will begin offering coverage in Europe through a specialty-insurance unit that Chairman Warren Buffett has been building over the past three years.

Tom Bolt was named president of U.K. and Southern Europe operations, starting June 1, and will be based in London, the Berkshire unit said in a statement Thursday. Gregor Koehler will be president of Northern Europe, effective immediately, and work from Dusseldorf, Germany.

“Establishing European capabilities is a natural next step” for expanding Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, said Peter Eastwood, chief executive officer of the unit. “We are pleased to have the top-caliber talents of Tom and Gregor.”

In 2013, Buffett recruited Eastwood and three other managers from American International Group Inc. to lead a push into commercial insurance for his Omaha, Nebraska-based company. The business has expanded swiftly, hiring executives from other carriers and setting up offices in North America, Australia and Asia.

Hiring Eastwood was a “home run,” Buffett wrote in his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders published last month. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty has $1 billion in annual premium volume and is on pace to become “one of the world’s leading” property-casualty insurers, he said.

Bolt was most recently director of performance management at Lloyd’s and previously spent 25 years at Berkshire, according to the statement. Koehler was most recently CEO of Pallas Versicherung AG, the global insurance division of Bayer AG.