Elkann’s PartnerRe Exits Junk Debt, Adds Real Estate After Deal

  • PartnerRe will expand bets on real estate, Elkann says
  • Firm also exits emerging market debt to narrow focus

PartnerRe exited junk bonds and shifted funds into property as the reinsurer reshaped a $16 billion investment portfolio after being acquired by John Elkann’s Exor SpA.

Exor’s approach is to focus on holdings that “we know and understand very well,” PartnerRe Chief Financial Officer Mario Bonaccorso, previously a managing director at Exor, said Wednesday at an annual gathering held by the Italian firm. “That’s the philosophy we have applied to PartnerRe.”

Exor, controlled by Elkann’s billionaire Agnelli family, paid $6.1 billion to acquire PartnerRe this year, winning a hostile takeover battle to complete the firm’s largest-ever deal. Elkann said last year that he would shun risks related to financial investments at Bermuda-based PartnerRe and seek instead to boost returns through superior insurance underwriting.

Exor in March sold its stake in Almacantar, a U.K. property investment group, to PartnerRe for 485 million euros ($541 million) and used the funds to reduce its debt. The reinsurer exited about $179 million of emerging-market fixed-income holdings in addition to $354 million of high-yield bonds since Sept. 30, according to a presentation on the firm’s website.

“Real estate is definitely an asset class which makes sense for PartnerRe to have,” Elkann said on the call. The reinsurer will “will increase its presence” in that arena, he said.

Exor also controls Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Ferrari NV, and raised its stake in the Economist magazine last year.

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