22 April 2014News

Aspen highlights clash of cultures as it battles Endurance

Aspen has come back fighting following unsolicited overtures from Endurance to acquire the company, arguing that its collaborative teamwork-oriented culture is not compatible with Endurance’s centralised, top-down management model.

In a strongly worded rebuttal, Aspen said that past experience suggested that Endurance’s description of its work environment as  “collegial” did not hold up to scrutiny.

Citing the departure of John Charman, Endurance’s CEO, from his two previous positions at AXIS and ACE and the “poaching” of Aspen staff, Aspen said that there would be a serious mismatch in work cultures in any combined entity. Aspen added that human capital remains its most valuable asset.

Aspen also attacked Endurance’s proposal, arguing that it opened up the company to scrutiny, but without any firm indication of funding sources or whether Endurance would in fact acquire the company.

“Endurance’s ‘proposal’ is merely a request for a one-way option to start an investigation of our company and then later decide if it wishes to pursue a transaction.  In addition to the transaction being subject to due diligence of Aspen by Endurance, Endurance’s financing sources would similarly require due diligence of Aspen and would later decide whether or not they wanted to provide the necessary cash funding to Endurance,” said Aspen.

Aspen argued that the availability of the cash necessary to execute the transaction was “highly uncertain” and represents considerable execution risk.

Aspen said that the company was vehemently opposed to Endurance addressing its own “business problems at the expense of Aspen and its shareholders”.

Aspen once again criticised Endurance’s business model, singling out its underperforming crop business, limited progress in the development of its insurance arm and a weak reinsurance division.

The company also criticised Endurance’s disdain for Lloyd’s, which remains a core component of the Aspen proposition.

Aspen said that the proposal continues to undervalue the company and contains considerable dis-synergies. It has encouraged shareholders to reject the proposal.