Evan Greenberg’s Ace in Chubb Clothing

As chairman and CEO of postmerger Chubb Corp., Greenberg will be betting on the same acquisition strategy and obsession with underwriting that helped him turn ACE from a midsize reinsurer into one of the world’s largest multiline insurance companies.


This summer upstart ACE engineered one of the largest insurance takeovers in history, agreeing to acquire venerable Chubb Corp. for more than $28 billion. A few weeks after the deal was announced, ACE chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg was in Warren, New Jersey, standing in the four-story atrium lobby at Chubb’s headquarters, looking up at unsmiling employees who leaned over the railings to hear from their new boss.

“This is like giving a speech in the Roman Colosseum,” the sinewy, shaven-skulled, 60-year-old executive told his audience. “I hope there’s no lions and that you don’t choose to throw anything at me.” Nervous giggles cascaded down. Greenberg then enumerated the many synergies and lucrative future he foresaw for the merged company, which he pointed out would be named Chubb, not ACE. “I don’t know any other way to show respect to somebody to begin with than to say we’re going to take your name,” said the insurance industry’s reigning superstar.

Months later, back at his midtown Manhattan headquarters, 45 stories above the theater district, Greenberg sounds less self-effacing. “We’re still ACE,” he tells Institutional Investor in a two-hour interview that displays his passion, brashness and edgy humor. “We will be ACE in Chubb clothing,” he quips.

It has been an extraordinary journey for the son of fabled insurance giant Maurice (Hank) Greenberg. For a quarter century Evan worked for his father at American International Group, expecting to take over what was then the planet’s leading insurer. When that didn’t happen, he quit AIG in 2000 and sulked for more than a year.

He plunged back into the industry after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, joining ACE, a midsize, Bermuda-based reinsurer. Over the next 14 years, he led ACE into 16 acquisitions, culminating with the Chubb deal, which will create the sixth-largest U.S. property/ casualty insurer by premiums. That would place the new entity behind State Farm Insurance, Liberty Mutual Group, Allstate Corp., Berkshire Hathaway and Travelers Cos.

Even more remarkable, this buying spree has taken place in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, when most insurers have been more intent on returning capital to shareholders than spending it on acquisitions. “You’re never going to shrink your way to greatness,” Greenberg says of his firm’s more cautious rivals.


The Chubb deal may, in fact, accelerate consolidation. Over the past year or so, there has been a spike in mergers, especially in reinsurance, though nothing on the scale of the Chubb acquisition. Some of ACE’s rivals have stumbled. Zurich Insurance Group failed in its takeover bid for the U.K.’s RSA Insurance Group. Meanwhile, AIG is facing a shareholder revolt, led by activist investor Carl Icahn, demanding that the firm sharply reduce its size and costs.

Because of Greenberg’s success at simultaneously bulking up ACE and delivering eye-catching profits, investors give him more leeway than almost any other insurance chief. “Evan obviously has deep roots in the insurance industry, but he’s been able to apply that knowledge and experience in uncommon ways,” says Laurence Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, one of ACE’s biggest shareholders. “He’s also been smart about the risks ACE is willing to underwrite and the company’s strategic direction.”

For all the attention focused on ACE’s pre-Chubb buying splurge, Greenberg points out that two thirds of his company’s growth has been organic, with acquisitions made to complement existing businesses. That meant buying a Mexican insurer to accelerate the growth of ACE’s own commercial p/c and accident and health (A&H) businesses south of the border and building up ACE’s U.S. agricultural clientele by purchasing a multiperil crop insurer.

Throughout this breakneck expansion ACE has demonstrated an obsession with underwriting. Over the past dozen years, the firm’s combined ratio, which measures costs and claims as a proportion of premiums in the p/c business, has averaged 7 percentage points lower than that of any major insurer in the world.

“We are underwriters first of all,” says Greenberg. That has certainly helped ACE’s bottom line in this prolonged era of low interest rates and paltry returns from insurance investment portfolios. In the first nine months of 2015, ACE’s $1.5 billion in underwriting income almost equaled its $1.7 billion in net investment earnings. Overall, net income for the period was $2.15 billion, down 6.5 percent from $2.3 billion for the first three quarters of 2014. In the five years from 2010 through 2014, ACE delivered a 124 percent total return to shareholders, compared with 113 percent for Chubb and 123 percent for Travelers.

A key strategy behind acquisitions has been ACE’s resolve to expand into emerging markets, where younger, upwardly mobile societies offer higher profits than the mature, lower-margin markets of the developed world. “Evan recognized the importance of the rise in the middle class in emerging markets like Thailand, Mexico and Brazil as a driver of growth,” Fink says.

But all these previous acquisitions amount to only a fraction of the Chubb deal, announced on July 1. In one fell swoop, ACE raised its gross premiums written from $23.4 billion to $37 billion. The merged companies are complementary in many of their business lines. ACE has a much larger footprint abroad; in the U.S. the firm is more focused on large corporate accounts and high-net-worth individuals. Chubb also is known for catering to affluent clients but is stronger than ACE in the middle-market companies and personal lines businesses. Both insurers are known for their conservative investment portfolios. Their combined ratios — 87.2 percent for ACE and 87.5 percent for Chubb for the first three quarters of 2015 — place them among the industry leaders. “We both put underwriting on a pedestal,” Greenberg says. By contrast, AIG’s combined ratio for the first nine months of 2015 was 99.6.

But for a merger this large, execution risks are high. “It’s going to be intense, with a lot of heavy lifting,” says Joshua Stirling, a New York–based insurance analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “This is a merger of two big companies that will have to work through their differences in culture, systems, duplicative operations and staff.”

In the months following the announcement of the deal, there’s already been at least one high-profile case of a senior Chubb executive jumping ship rather than accepting a different position in the merged entity. Still on the minds of many analysts is the $70 billion 1998 merger of Citicorp and Travelers, which broke apart four years later.

Greenberg readily acknowledges the risks. “It’s one thing to buy Chubb; it’s another thing to integrate them well,” he says. “One of the real questions for me was, Is my company ready for this, and can we as a management team handle this? And I feel very confident we can.”

Evan Greenberg was born confident. With his father, Hank, perhaps the most iconic figure in the insurance world and his older brother, Jeffrey, in the business as well, Evan’s destiny was set. He did have youthful detours: After finishing high school at 17, he traveled around the U.S. for three years doing odd jobs, the longest as a cook in a Colorado nursing home. He never received a post–high school degree, though he briefly attended New York University and the College of Insurance.

In 1975, Greenberg, then only 20, accepted a $7,800 annual salary to rate automobile policies for New Hampshire Insurance Co. (later acquired by AIG). A few months later he joined AIG as an underwriter in its A&H business; he spent the next 25 years there, working his way up to president and chief operating officer, and heir apparent to his father.

“I’m a product of that upbringing at AIG,” Greenberg says. “Underwriting was everything. There was never a greater insurance company.”

Former colleagues remember him as driven. “If you don’t like high-performance, high-expectation, relentless pursuit, then you probably wouldn’t want to work for Evan,” says Daniel Glaser, CEO of Marsh & McLennan Cos. and an AIG executive during Greenberg’s last year at the firm. “You cannot outwork him.”

But when it became clear that Hank Greenberg had no intention of retiring any time soon, Evan stunned the insurance world by abruptly resigning from AIG. For 15 months he moped. Other insurers hesitated to contact him, fearing they could not offer him anything comparable to the lofty post he had vacated. The exception was ACE, whose chief executive at the time, Brian Duperreault, was another AIG alumnus; he pursued Greenberg relentlessly for more than a year.

The September 11, 2001, attacks persuaded Greenberg to finally accept Duperreault’s invitation to join ACE as vice chairman. The terrorist assault led to a huge withdrawal of global insurance capacity. But ACE, incorporated in the Cayman Islands with headquarters in Bermuda, had just raised more than $1 billion to deploy. “So when 9/11 happened, I called Evan again and said, ‘We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’d hate to have you miss it,’” recalls Duperreault, now CEO of Bermuda-based Hamilton Insurance Group.

Greenberg quickly dispelled any concerns that he might treat ACE as a huge step down from AIG. “He didn’t act like he had been No. 2 at the world’s greatest insurance company,” Duperreault says. “He put his head down and worked hard, which is what I hoped he would do, because I saw in him somebody who could take ACE to the next level.”

The company was founded in 1985 as an insurer and reinsurer by a group of 34 companies seeking hard-to-obtain coverage for excess liability and directors and officers (D&O) insurance. When Greenberg came aboard in 2001, ACE was still digesting the p/c operations it had bought from Cigna Corp. two years earlier for $3.45 billion. The acquisition of the Cigna business, with more than 50 offices abroad, moved ACE well beyond reinsurance. Duperreault and Greenberg were excited by the possibility of building a global powerhouse. “We were entering a hard insurance market, which comes around rarely,” Greenberg says of the early period after 9/11. “So we hardly missed a beat. It was like trying to put wings on a plane while it was taxiing down the runway for takeoff. We were building businesses, underwriting individual risks, moving in all directions. It was great.”

With Greenberg’s arrival ACE entered an era of voracious acquisitions — and some legal controversy. Greenberg became CEO in 2004. That same year ACE was investigated by New York State attorney general Eliot Spitzer for participating in a bid-rigging and price-fixing scheme with other insurance firms, including broker Marsh & McLennan, then headed by Evan’s older brother, Jeffrey, and AIG, still led at the time by Hank Greenberg.

As part of an $80 million settlement in 2006, ACE acknowledged its prior conduct and agreed to change its business practices. A junior executive pleaded guilty to criminal charges, but Evan Greenberg himself admitted no fault. Jeffrey Greenberg resigned as chairman and CEO of Marsh & McLennan in 2004, shortly after the Spitzer investigation began. And in 2005, Hank Greenberg stepped down as chairman and CEO of AIG after 27 years, following a scandal linked to the company’s overstated reserves and loose accounting.

The Spitzer investigation proved barely a distraction for Evan Greenberg. In the dozen years before July’s deal for Chubb, he led ACE on a string of 15 acquisitions. They varied widely both in business lines and geography, from life and p/c insurance companies in Asia to auto insurance in Latin America and high-net-worth personal lines in the U.S.

ACE’s offshore tax status was a big help in this expansion. Because it has always been incorporated abroad, the firm has clear tax advantages over insurers domiciled in the U.S. — and therefore more capital to spend. It soon grew too large to continue being incorporated in the Cayman Islands. “As we became a global insurer, the Cayman Islands didn’t exactly present an image of legitimacy, permanence and stability,” Greenberg notes.

So in 2008, ACE incorporated itself in Zurich, while maintaining its real headquarters in New York. Besides being a global insurance center, Zurich has a far lower corporate tax rate than the U.S. — 7.83 percent, compared with a nominal top rate of 35 percent. Because of a mix of earnings from different jurisdictions with varying tax rates, ACE’s effective income tax rate tends to be in the low teens. In 2013, it was 11.3 percent, compared to 18.2 percent in 2014 — still a rate that U.S.-based rivals would envy.

“We are not an inverter,” says Greenberg, alluding to a red-hot U.S. economic controversy. “We were never an American company.” If it incorporated in the U.S., ACE risked being taxed on all the book-value gain it had built up over decades domiciled overseas. “I have an obligation to shareholders, so that hardly made any sense,” says Greenberg, a fierce critic of U.S. corporate tax policy.

With or without tax advantages, the CEO was determined to build a new global insurer. ACE pressed ahead with acquisitions in the midst of the financial crisis, when other insurers were shrinking balance sheets or looking for government bailouts. Greenberg’s former employer, AIG, survived only because of a record $182.5 billion taxpayer rescue in 2008–’09. (The bailout was eventually repaid, along with more than $20 billion in profits, but only after AIG sold off billions of dollars in assets.)

Even healthy insurers like Travelers and Chubb steered clear of acquisitions, preferring to return excess capital to investors. Since 2009, Travelers and Chubb have repurchased more than 30 percent of their shares, compared with only 5 percent by ACE. “Most insurers overcompensated shareholders after 2008,” says Bernstein’s Stirling.

In 2013 and 2014, ACE repurchased $3 billion of its shares, but that was barely a fourth of the money spent on acquisitions in the previous decade. And it left about $6 billion in cash available for the Chubb deal. “Greenberg has been very up-front with shareholders about retaining capital for acquisitions,” says Meyer Shields, a Baltimore-based analyst for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

“Evan looks at potential acquisitions the same way he approaches underwriting,” says Thomas Mitchell, an analyst at Lake Placid, New York–based Miller Tabak & Co. “Wherever he finds a favorable risk-reward ratio that seems to offer an adequate return over a reasonable period of time, he will decide to go forward with an acquisition.”

Emerging markets have been one focus. Hank Greenberg expanded AIG’s global reach through insurance operations in Asia, and Evan served as CEO of AIG Far East while based in Japan from 1991 to 1994. At ACE, Evan bought Malaysian comprehensive general insurer Jerneh Insurance in 2010, New York Life Insurance Co.’s South Korea and Hong Kong operations in 2011, and 80 percent of Indonesia’s general and personal lines insurer Asuransi Jaya Proteksi in 2012.

“All our acquisitions outside the U.S. have been done in countries where we already had a presence, history and a good growth strategy,” says John Keogh, who will continue as chief operating officer and head of global p/c insurance at the new Chubb. “In each case we found an opportunity to advance what we were already doing organically.”

In Malaysia, for example, ACE built its insurance business around large commercial companies but was unable to expand quickly enough among middle-class consumers and smaller commercial companies, which were driving the fast-growing economy. As Malaysians moved out of poverty, they sought to protect their businesses and families with A&H insurance products. Reaching this burgeoning market required an army of agents and a distribution network that would have taken ACE decades to build organically. So when Jerneh Insurance became available, ACE pounced. “We got a company that had branches and operations throughout Malaysia and a broad agency distribution channel built up over decades,” says Keogh, 50, who met and impressed Greenberg when both were at AIG. After a 20-year career there, he joined ACE in 2006 and quickly rose to vice chairman in 2010 and COO the following year. He will be the second-ranking executive behind Greenberg at the new Chubb.

Though ACE is often thought of in terms of its global footprint, the North American market accounted for more than half of its total premiums in 2015. In the U.S., ACE has sought exposure to business lines, like A&H insurance, that are less subject to property/casualty cycles. “Before Chubb, Evan looked for opportunities to diversify into higher markets through small and midsize businesses that he could bolt onto his ACE platform,” says Bernstein’s Stirling.

In 2008, ACE almost doubled its A&H business with the purchase of Combined Insurance Co. of America from Aon for $2.56 billion. Combined had a customer base of independent contractors and mom-and-pop businesses such as shops, diners and delis, owned by people whose livelihoods depended on their staying healthy and on the job. In 2008, ACE added the high-net-worth personal lines business of Atlantic Cos. for an undisclosed price. Two years later it paid $1.1 billion for the 80 percent of Rain and Hail, the second-largest U.S. crop insurance underwriter, that it didn’t own.

ACE also has an enviable record of avoiding or reducing exposure to less profitable business lines. “When we see trends in the marketplace that prevent us from making a profit, we will take action,” says John Lupica, who was ACE’s vice chairman in charge of North American operations and will run major accounts and specialty insurance in North America at the new Chubb while retaining the title of vice chairman.

ACE Westchester’s excess and surplus (E&S) business is a good example. From a peak of more than $500 million worth of policies in 2002, ACE had shrunk its E&S line to $50 million by 2005, after a soft market set in. Similarly, workers’ compensation insurance, which topped $300 million in 2009, has fallen to about $15 million today. “We never get completely out of a business line because it’s imperative to stay in the market and see the opportunities that come up,” says Lupica.

The biggest opportunity of them all loomed on the horizon in mid-2015. Greenberg had coveted Chubb for years and had made several approaches to its board and management dating back to 2009. But serious negotiations began only late last spring. “The time was right for both companies,” Greenberg says.

The complementary nature of the two firms was compelling, with relatively little overlap in business lines or geographic focus. And Chubb CEO John Finnegan, 66, was scheduled to retire at the end of 2016, providing an added incentive to make a deal.

After just two weeks of negotiations, the boards of both companies reached an agreement. ACE would buy Chubb for $28.3 billion — 51 percent in cash and 49 percent in stock — creating a combined entity with $46 billion in shareholder equity and $150 billion in cash, investments and other assets. ACE shareholders would own 70 percent of the new entity, while Chubb shareholders received a 30 percent premium for their stock. Greenberg will be chairman and CEO of the new Chubb when the deal closes, which is expected to happen early this year; Finnegan will serve as executive vice chairman during the integration process.

“Evan knew what was important to get the approval of the ACE board and also what was needed to make the Chubb board, shareholders and executives comfortable enough to be acquired,” says Gregory Fleming, former president of wealth management at Morgan Stanley, who advised Greenberg on the deal.

ACE’s AA credit rating and proven track record in previous acquisitions stood the company in good stead going into the Chubb deal, notes Fleming who left Morgan Stanley in early January. Greenberg’s offer to have the merged entity assume the Chubb name was the clincher. “Businesses are tribal,” Greenberg says. “Symbols are important.”

Ethnology aside, analysts point out that Chubb, founded in 1882, has a more admired and valuable name than ACE. “Chubb has always had a higher multiple relative to the industry than ACE,” says Miller Tabak’s Mitchell. “Evan hopes it will carry over after the merger.”

Chubb has been able to extract higher prices from customers thanks to its reputation for quickly paying off claims — a trait for which ACE isn’t always noted. “Chubb goes further than most other companies, including ACE, in terms of service,” KBW’s Shields says.

To deliver such quality service, Chubb has built an impressive distribution network, with 3,500 agents for commercial lines and a further 2,700 agents in personal lines, operating out of 48 regional offices in the U.S. By contrast, ACE has only nine regional offices, 1,200 personal lines agents and fewer than 500 commercial lines agents in the domestic market. “I’ve competed against Chubb my entire career,” Lupica says. “Chubb’s branch structure agency platform is phenomenal.” It will become a key asset for the merged entity.

“We are going to preserve the agency distribution,” Greenberg promised Chubb employees in July. “We’re going to preserve the branch system.” That would allay the worries of current Chubb policyholders.

The biggest immediate impact of the merger on ACE’s business will be in high-net-worth insurance, which is expected to grow dramatically and deliver high margins. That will leave the high-net-worth market largely with three big players: the new Chubb, AIG and PURE Insurance. “Evan seems to be sold on the idea that the insurance market for wealthy families and individuals is very strong, with limited price competition,” Mitchell says. Chubb is especially solid in homeowners’ insurance for the wealthy, while ACE targets the same segment in other personal insurance lines.

Insurance for middle-market companies is also expected to get a big boost. Chubb successfully wooed these businesses by using its army of agents to offer package policies that provide coverage for several types of insurance. ACE couldn’t match these offerings to midsize companies. “The fact that we weren’t a package company prevented us from being a bigger partner,” Lupica says.

At ACE three quarters of U.S. business is commercial lines, and 80 percent of that total is focused on Fortune 500 corporations, which offer lower margins than smaller companies. “It’s a segment where ACE is selling to professional risk managers, who are very sophisticated buyers and work the market to get the best price,” says Peter Deutsch, a Boston-based fund manager at Fidelity Select Insurance Portfolio, which includes ACE and Chubb among its $439 million in holdings. With the Chubb deal, he adds, ACE will be able to reach small and midsize businesses that are less sophisticated insurance buyers and offer higher margins.

Despite the many synergies, not all ACE and Chubb parts will fit like LEGO blocks. “I get the complementary nature of the deal, but a merger this large poses integration risks,” says Tracy Dolin, an insurance analyst at Standard & Poor’s. Citing overlaps in some businesses and the prospect of substantial personnel cuts, S&P in July revised ACE’s outlook from stable to negative for a two-year horizon. The most glaring overlaps are in the D&O and surety lines. “I would expect some loss of D&O business, both from agents worried about overconcentration and from departures by some underwriters, who could take some accounts with them,” says KBW’s Shields.

The handling of investment portfolios is another potential source of friction. ACE and Chubb share a conservative approach to investments. At both firms fixed-income securities account for more than 90 percent of the investment portfolio. Because most of its business is in the U.S., Chubb is more heavily invested in municipal bonds. But at both companies government and corporate bonds average AA ratings, with durations of only about four years.

The two insurers diverge in the execution of investments. Chubb keeps a large in-house staff to manage its portfolio. ACE, reflecting a growing trend in the insurance industry, outsources its selection of securities to large asset managers. “These firms have tremendous resources globally and a deeper expertise in the selection of securities than we could ever muster,” says ACE CFO Philip Bancroft, who will continue in the position at the new Chubb. “They also have much bigger portfolios — trillions of dollars — they can leverage off of. So it turns out to be cheaper, in our view.” Under the merger ACE’s outsourcing approach will prevail and Chubb’s in-house investment personnel will be sharply reduced, Bancroft says.

Greenberg sheds no tears for employees who lose their jobs in the merger. “Part of integration is eliminating inefficiencies and overlap where they exist,” he says. “That makes you more competitive. And ultimately, it creates far more employment.”

Certainly, ACE is experienced at integrating acquisitions. “It’s like a military exercise,” Greenberg says. Two days after the Chubb deal was announced, work began to develop a 90-day integration plan covering every function, product line and geographical region of the merged entity. Every two weeks combined ACE-Chubb teams issued progress reports.

Despite the careful planning, things can go awry. In late July, only weeks after the Chubb deal was unveiled, Greenberg revealed that ACE’s Lupica and Chubb’s Dino Robusto would become co-presidents of the North America insurance division. But in November, Robusto decided to accept an offer to become chairman and CEO of CNA Financial Corp., a large commercial p/c insurer.

Robusto’s defection forced Greenberg to quickly shift course and do away with the co-presidents’ management of the new North American insurance division. Instead, he named Paul Krump, the old Chubb’s head of personal lines and claims, as president for North America commercial and personal lines. He will have responsibility for middle-market commercial p/c and affluent and high-net-worth clients — the market segments where the old Chubb was strongest. Lupica agreed to become president of North America major accounts and specialty insurance.

Chubb chairman and CEO Finnegan has had disappointments of his own since delivering his firm to ACE in July. Chubb, which has a mandatory retirement age of 65, decided in 2013 to make an exception for Finnegan and extend his contract to 67 so he could groom Robusto and Krump as possible successors.

Although Chubb shareholders were pleased by the price Finnegan extracted from ACE in the merger, they balked at the golden parachute he was counting on for making the deal. In October, Chubb shareholders turned down a pay package that would have given Finnegan a $23 million tax reimbursement, $24 million in cash and $33 million in shares.

Greenberg estimates it will take almost two years for the two companies to be fully integrated. In the meantime, both insurers will have to stave off further poaching attempts by competitors and reassure clients that there will be no lack of focus or diminution in the quality of service.

The ACE-Chubb merger is likely to lead to more M&A activity. Already in the year preceding the announcement of the deal, consolidation activity had jumped from an average of three significant acquisitions by other insurers annually to 11. Though none of the transactions approached the size of the ACE-Chubb merger, some of the most notable included the $875 million acquisition of a controlling stake in St. Petersburg, Florida, property insurer ARX Holding Corp. by Mayfield Village, Ohio–based auto insurer Progressive in December 2014; the $1.8 billion purchase of Montpelier Re Holdings by another Bermuda-based reinsurer, Endurance Specialty Holdings, in March 2015; and the $4.2 billion acquisition of Bermuda-based Catlin Group in May 2015 by Dublin-based XL Group, creating one of the largest sellers of coverage for artwork, aviation and political risk.

Analysts predict bigger deals in the wake of the ACE-Chubb merger, especially because of expectations that the current p/c market is on a long downward-pricing trend. “Many companies that thought they were big enough to weather what is likely to be a few years of pressure pricing will now have to reconsider whether the competitive dynamics really do permit them to stay at their current size,” says KBW’s Shields.

That’s proving difficult for some big-name insurers. Three months after his company made an unsuccessful £5.6 billion ($8.4 billion) bid for RSA in September, Zurich CEO Martin Senn suddenly quit. The Swiss insurer’s chairman, Tom de Swann, became interim chief executive and announced that he was searching outside the company for a new CEO. In mid-December, Zurich agreed to pay Wells Fargo & Co. as much as $1.05 billion for U.S. agricultural insurer Rural Community Insurance Services to better compete against the new Chubb’s Rain and Hail subsidiary.

At the opposite end of the insurance industry’s consolidation wave is AIG. The company is under siege by dissident shareholders, who want it to be split in three. CEO Peter Hancock has rejected the idea, but he has promised to reduce senior management by almost a quarter, cut costs and simplify operations. Famed for its underwriting prowess in the years before the global financial crisis, AIG has struggled since then to bring down its combined ratio.

The new Chubb is in a sweet spot: large enough to compete with any global insurer yet not in the too-big-to-fail category that would place it under the more-onerous capital requirements being discussed by regulators. Among U.S. insurers only the three largest — AIG, MetLife and Prudential Financial — have been designated by the Fed as systemically important financial institutions. Beginning in 2016 in Europe, the more stringent capital requirements and other reforms under Solvency II will place an increasing burden on insurers, especially market leaders such as Germany’s Allianz, France’s AXA and Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali.

Greenberg has every intention of reaching the pinnacle of his industry and leading this select group of insurers that are too big to fail. He makes no secret that once the integration process is complete by the end of 2017, the new Chubb will be on the prowl. A decade from now, he promises, “Chubb will be far bigger, more profitable and dynamic — a force to admire and be reckoned with.”

And he plans to remain active for a few more decades. After all, Hank Greenberg, now 90, still reigns as chairman and CEO of global insurer C.V. Starr & Co. “I’ve got good genes,” says Evan. Maybe good enough to ensure he someday gains his father’s legendary status.