Two-thirds of insurance executives and analysts believe that the recent mergers of St. Paul/Travelers and John Hancock/Manulife indicate heightened industry consolidation activity, according to a survey presented at Standard & Poor’s recent insurance conference.

Debt and equity markets reward the stock insurance companies for their ability to acquire other companies, believe 71 percent of the industry executives surveyed. “It is clear that the financial flexibility enjoyed by stock companies to purchase another company far outweighs the vulnerability to be acquired,” said Steven Dreyer, managing director of Standard & Poor’s insurance ratings.

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