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The Switzerland of Europe

Dear friend,

The Scorverium battle rumbles on and descends into an increasingly bitter struggle.

Scor’s element of surprise has gone, the precision-guided missiles have been used and heavy armour has become bogged down. So it has been left to the troops to fix bayonets and wade into bloody hand-to-hand combat — it’s not pretty.

Suing your potential future employer is probably not the best way to endear yourself to them, and hinting at a mass exodus if the deal does go through is probably also not such a great idea either. But that’s brinkmanship for you.

A few years ago a threat of a mass Zurich exodus might have been met with howls of derision — after all, where would they all go to except Swiss Re? But these days Zurich airport arrivals lounges are crammed with Bermudians and Londoners on the make —— and why not?

What a fantastic domicile! If Bermuda is the Switzerland of the Americas, and Singapore is the Switzerland of Asia, Switzerland must surely be the Switzerland of Europe!

A pool of talented experienced people on your doorstep, solid regulatory structures, sound government, stable currency and great tax regimes. It’s in the EEA but is unhampered by the EU and is located right in the middle of western Europe, with good transport links in all directions, including by air — what more do you want?

So this threat is real and tangible — all the recent transatlantic Swiss arrivals must be licking their lips at the prospect of poaching whole teams, as the uncertainty ascends and is compounded exponentially by a protracted battle.

Analysts have often opined that Scor is in the driving seat on this deal because its shares are as richly valued as its target’s.

So what about this for a final speculative twist?

The final poison pill that Converium hasn’t yet tried is a takeover of someone else. If Converium’s shares are so richly valued that a class of 2001 player can’t come to the Alps then why shouldn’t the Alps make the round-trip themselves?

That would be the ultimate defence, wouldn’t it? Buy something else to make you too big to be bought. Aspen, Axis, Arch, AWAC — or take your pick of many others that don’t begin with the letter ‘A’— none of these guys would be a bad fit, would they?

Many have told me in private that Scor is only trying to pull the same trick anyway!

(Enough silly, feverish speculation!)

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