Berkshire Hathaway's Insurance Arm Sets up Dubai Office

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A.) is set to expand its commercial insurance business into the lucrative Middle East.

In a statement, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) said a new office in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) will now open after being given the go-ahead from the regulator. From its new home, specialty and commercial insurance will be provided to brokers and companies in construction, energy, marine, casualty and executive and professional lines.

Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s investment vehicle, announced that the office will be run by two new hires. Alessandro Cerase has been appointed senior executive officer and will be deputized by Neeraj Yadvendu.

Cerase, a former global head of energy and engineered risk at AIG, will lead first-party lines for the company in Dubai, as well as other operations in Asia. Meanwhile, Yadvendu, who was most recently regional head of casualty and financial lines at AXA Asia, is responsible for heading BHSI’s third-party lines in the Middle East.

“We are excited to expand BHSI’s footprint in this region which will service those markets in the Middle East and beyond who seek (re)insurance support in the DIFC,” said Marc Breuil, BHSI’s president of Asia Middle East. “The strategic location of Dubai as well as the stability and efficiency of the DIFC make it an ideal hub for BHSI to support economic growth in the region.”

BHSI’s move to the financial center of the Persian Gulf isn’t its first in Asia. Buffett’s commercial insurance unit already has regional hubs in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as operations in Malaysia and Macau. (See also: Why Buffett's Berkshire Is Biggest Winner of 2017.)

The DIFC was established in 2004 as a major global financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The 110-hectare district is already home to the regional offices of many of the big global banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. (See also: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Gains $37 Billion from Tax Cuts.)