Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited is a holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is primarily engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and the associated investment management. Fairfax’s corporate objective is to achieve a 15% growth in book value per share over the long term. Fairfax seeks to differentiate itself by combining disciplined underwriting and investing its assets on a value oriented total return basis, believing that this approach will provide above-average returns over the long term.
Fairfax was founded in 1985 by the present Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Prem Watsa. Prem refinanced a small Canadian insurance company and changed the name to Fairfax Financial, which was derived from the principles of fair and friendly acquisitions, based on the golden rule of ‘treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves’.
Through fair and friendly acquisitions, Fairfax has grown into a leading global commercial lines insurance and reinsurance group, compounding book value per share by 17.8%+ annually since 1985, through a dual focus on underwriting profitability and total-return value investing.
Our companies operate on a decentralized basis and are run by the Presidents, except for performance evaluation, succession planning, acquisitions, financing, and investments, which are done by or with Fairfax. The holding company is also responsible for financial reporting requirements, aggregating the total risk across insurance operations and promoting corporate culture throughout our operating companies. Over the last 37 years, Fairfax has written cumulative premiums of $229 billion and has donated more than $288 million since beginning its donation program in 1991.
Since inception, Fairfax has been focused on the long-term view and not on short-term earnings to the benefit of all shareholders.
We expect to compound our mark‑to‑market book value per share over the long term by 15% annually by running Fairfax and its subsidiaries for the long term benefit of customers, employees, shareholders and the communities where we operate – at the expense of short term profits if necessary.
Our focus is long term growth in book value per share and not quarterly earnings. We plan to grow through internal means as well as through friendly acquisitions.
We always want to be soundly financed.
We provide complete disclosure annually to our shareholders.
Our companies are decentralized and run by the presidents except for performance evaluation, succession planning, acquisitions, financing and investments, which are done by or with Fairfax. Investing will always be conducted based on a long term value‑oriented philosophy. Cooperation among companies is encouraged to the benefit of Fairfax in total.
Complete and open communication between Fairfax and subsidiaries is an essential requirement at Fairfax.
Share ownership and large incentives are encouraged across the Group.
Fairfax will always be a very small holding company and not an operating company.
Honesty and integrity are essential in all our relationships and will never be compromised.
We are results oriented – not political.
We are team players – no “egos”. A confrontational style is not appropriate. We value loyalty – to Fairfax and our colleagues.
We are hard working but not at the expense of our families.
We always look at opportunities but emphasize downside protection and look for ways to minimize loss of capital.
We are entrepreneurial. We encourage calculated risk taking. It is all right to fail but we should learn from our mistakes.
We will never bet the company on any project or acquisition.
Fairfax enters the U.S. insurance market with the acquisition of Ranger Insurance (business was later assumed by Crum & Forster).
Fairfax acquires Continental Canada (now part of Northbridge Insurance).
Fairfax establishes significant global reinsurance presence with the acquisitions of Skandia America (later renamed OdysseyRe) and Compagnie Transcontinentale de Réassurance (later merged with OdysseyRe).
Fairfax acquires Crum & Forster, a U.S. commercial lines P&C insurer.
Fairfax acquires Falcon Insurance (Hong Kong).
Fairfax acquires TIG Holdings, which owned TIG Insurance (now the principal operating company of RiverStone) and TIG Re (merged with OdysseyRe).
Fairfax acquires The Resolution Group and establishes the RiverStone Group as an international run-off specialist.
Fairfax enters Indian P&C insurance industry with the creation of ICICI Lombard, a joint venture with ICICI Bank.
Fairfax completes an IPO of OdysseyRe, with its shares listed on the NYSE.
Fairfax acquires First Capital, based in Singapore.
Fairfax completes an IPO of Northbridge Financial, with its shares listed on the TSX.
Fairfax acquires interest in Falcon Insurance (Thailand).
Fairfax privatizes OdysseyRe.
Fairfax privatizes Northbridge Financial.
Fairfax acquires Polskie Towarzystwo Reasekuracji S.A. (Polish Re).
Fairfax acquires Zenith National, a U.S. workers’ compensation insurer.
Fairfax acquires interest in Gulf Insurance, a P&C insurer operating in the MENA region.
RiverStone acquires General Fidelity Insurance Co, a U.S. insurer placed into runoff.
Fairfax establishes Fairfax Brasil.
Crum & Forster acquires First Mercury.
Fairfax acquires Pacific Insurance, based in Malaysia.
RiverStone acquires Brit Insurance Ltd. (renamed RiverStone Insurance), a U.K. insurer in runoff.
Fairfax sells its interest in Cunningham Lindsey.
Crum & Forster acquires Hartville, a U.S. pet insurer.
RiverStone acquires American Safety, with Crum & Forster and Odyssey assuming certain lines of business and the remainder placed into runoff.
Fairfax acquires Pethealth Inc., a pet insurance and services provider in North America and the U.K.
Fairfax acquires PT Batavia Mitratama in Indonesia (later merged with AMAG).
Fairfax acquires QBE’s operations in Ukraine (renamed Colonnade Ukraine).
Fairfax acquires Brit PLC, a Lloyd’s of London re/insurer.
Fairfax acquires interest in BIC Insurance, based in Vietnam.
Fairfax acquires Union Assurance, based in Sri Lanka (later merged with Fairfirst).
Pacific acquires MCIS Insurance Berhad in Malaysia.
Fairfax acquires interest in Eurolife, a Greek life and non-life insurer.
Fairfax acquires PT Asuransi Multi Artha Guna Tbk (AMAG), based in Indonesia.
Fairfax acquires Asian Alliance, based in Sri Lanka (renamed Fairfirst).
Fairfax acquires Zurich South Africa (renamed Bryte Insurance).
Fairfax acquires QBE’s business in Central and Eastern Europe (named Colonnade).
Fairfax acquires Allied World Assurance Company, a global specialty re/insurer.
Fairfax acquires AIG’s operations in Latin America (named Fairfax Latam).
Colonnade acquires AIG’s business in Central and Eastern Europe.
Fairfax sells its interest in ICICI Lombard.
Fairfax establishes Digit Insurance, a digital general insurer in India.
Fairfax sells its interest in First Capital.
Fairfax acquires Universalna and AXA’s business in Ukraine (renamed ARX Insurance) which together form Fairfax Ukraine.
Fairfax acquires Singapore Re.
Fairfax sells its European Run-off operations.
Fairfax sells its global pet insurance operations.