Collapse of HIH Insurance Essay

The March 2001 prostration of HIH Insurance sent shockwaves through the Australian concern community. The country’s second-largest employer, HIH was at the tail-end of a major acquisition fling that had seen the company purchase major insurance operations in New Zealand, Argentina, Switzerland and the US since 1997. Most significantly, in 1999 HIH had purchased one of its chief rivals, FAI Insurance, taking on that company’s main executive Rodney Adler as one of its corporate managers. With an estimated $ 8.1bn plus base at the terminal of 2000, HIH was widely perceived as an highly robust and dependable company ; nevertheless, private internal studies had begun to show that the company’s debt purchase and insurance liabilities were so high that there was a existent hazard of insolvency. Ultimately, in early 2001 the company’s unstable fiscal state of affairs became indefensible and HIH endured the largest corporate prostration in Australian history, traveling down with losingss of more than $ 5bn. With the company go oning to work strictly so as to serve old claims, with no new concern being taken onboard, Australia’s fiscal regulators set out to find the precise concatenation of events that had led to the HIH prostration. ( M. Westfield. 2003 )

A Royal committee, examined the concatenation of events that led to the prostration of HIH. Reporting in April 2003, the committee found that there was n’t merely a individual cause of the company’s prostration. But that there was systematic failure in about every country of its operation ( 2003 ) , and the extent of this failure was so great that condemnable charges were brought against cardinal members of the company’s board such as William Howard, Ray Williams, Geoffrey Cohen and Rodney Adler. ( ASIC 2005 ) In peculiar, Rodney Adler was convicted on four separate charges: one count of obtaining money by misrepresentation ; one count of dishonesty in the discharge of his responsibilities ; and two counts of deliberately circulating false information.

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In peculiar, Adler was found to hold falsely claimed, in a figure of interviews, that he had personally purchased HIH portions in mid-2000. ( D. Elias.2005 ) A By doing such claims, and specifically by claiming that HIH is undervalued in footings of its portion monetary value, Adler was guilty of wilfully circulating fiscal information that they knew, or had good ground to cognize, was false. However, there were separate calls for an enquiry into how HIH’s corporate administration systems had failed to forestall Adler mistreating his place in such a mode. In a separate claim, Adler was accused of carrying HIH to put a $ 2m loan in Business Thinking Systems ( BTS ) , a company in which Adler had an involvement. ( Karen Percy 2005 )

The other major neglecting identified in the ruin of HIH was a failure to supply decently for future claims, and all other jobs basically stemmed from this issue. Covering future claims is one of the most cardinal facets of any insurance company’s concern, yet by the terminal of its being HIH was in a place where a negative displacement of every bit small as 1.7 % would be plenty to convey the company to the point of insolvency ( M Westfield,2003 ) . The primary ground for this failure was reported to be a misdirection of altering market conditions, which increased HIH’s liabilities massively and were non covered by strategic be aftering enterprises that might hold been expected to absorb such alterations.

Changing market conditions can do serious destabilization for any insurance company, but the hazards are well-known and most companies take excess attention in order to minimise their exposure to such alterations. The fact that HIH dramatically over-exposed itself was for the most portion due to the company’s highly rapid enlargement ( Brendan Bailey 2003 ) .As noted earlier, HIH acquired a figure of companies during its concluding old ages and was doing a major push for international enlargement.

Such enlargement, while frequently a strong concern move, frequently brings greater liabilities than would otherwise be the instance, and HIH appears to hold acted based on the belief that the liabilities would simply be relative to its enlargement. The company appears to hold basically misunderstood the grade to which excess commissariats need to be made for alterations in its market environment. This is a major error that could in my sentiment, if addressed at the clip, have been resolved. The fact that the board of HIH seemingly went undisputed when prosecuting this scheme shows that there was a failure of administration at HIH, with no existent inadvertence being applied to look into whether the company’s scheme was right or fiscal sustainable.

In the wake of the HIH prostration, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission ( ASIC ) made a figure of alterations to guarantee that the same job could non be repeated. In peculiar, ASIC inaugurated a rigorous new set of corporate administration regulations designed to guarantee that companies stay nearer to the ordinances in this country. ASIC acted on the belief that the nucleus administration processs and regulations were basically sound during HIH’s concluding months, but that finally the company’s board was able to happen ways to accomplish proficient conformity while still prosecuting in the sort of activity that the ordinances were designed to forestall. ( ASIC 2003 )

In my sentiment this can be seen as a failure of the ordinances every bit much as a failure of the company, although clearly it was the determination of persons such as Adler to intentionally travel against these ordinances that led to the company’s ruin because there was no proper inadvertence on the actions of the board. However Adler and other members of the HIH board were in no manner induced or encouraged to move in the manner that they did. Rather, they chose to travel against the spirit of the regulations and act in a mode that was clearly against the best involvements of the company.

Ultimately, it’s clear that HIH should hold been much more cautious when prosecuting its enlargement, and should hold taken greater stairss to guarantee that its liabilities were covered. By spread outing so quickly, the company was come ining markets in which it had small or no experience, yet no proviso appears to hold been made for the demand to go forth excess borders while come ining these new markets. This is clearly a instance of major misdirection and of over-confidence during a period of major enlargement. These jobs were increased, by the company’s reaction to its bad fiscal place, and peculiarly by Rodney Adler’s determination to try to procure investing based on false statements. Even when the company’s enhanced liability was made evident, in my sentiment there still could hold been a opportunity for HIH to retrieve by presenting a major cost-cutting plan and guaranting that future operations would finally do up for the losingss.

Adler chose to seek to cover up the fiscal jobs in the short-run and hope that his misstatements might finally convey the company back onto a strong fiscal terms that would let it to cover over his misdirection so that it would ne’er go public. This attack by Adler was designed to repair the initial over-expansion mistake, but really compounded that job and represented a 2nd serious error. The fact that the regulative governments were incognizant of what was go oning in my sentiment does non bespeak major jobs with those governments, since any company that engages in the degree of misrepresentation orchestrated at HIH will ever hold a opportunity of acquiring past the regulations.

Although lessons can be learnt, peculiarly in footings of the seemingly concentration of power in Adler’s custodies, there’s clearly a bound to the ability of regulative groups to cover companies where the managers set out on a determined way to perpetrate fraud and to misdirect perceivers. Although this does non intend that the governments should non be argus-eyed, it’s clear that in the instance of HIH, guaranting full and proper penalty for Adler and other executives in the wake of the prostration, as a warning to others, was in my sentiment one of the best options.


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