Even in a highly difficult market, we amplified our relevance to customers and cemented a strong position to grow value for shareholders in the years to come.
My first year as Chairman of the Board of Directors was an extraordinary period for XL, during which the Company wrote a new chapter in its history with new energy and an even sharper focus on our future. Not only did we successfully launch our Insurance and Reinsurance operations under the XL Catlin brand following our transformative acquisition last May, we also never took our eye off the ball operationally. Even in a highly difficult market, we amplified our relevance to customers and cemented a strong position to grow value for shareholders in the years to come.
With the closing of the Catlin transaction, our new executive team has driven an integration process across our Company that has incredible people and culture serving as the backbone of our combined organization. We welcomed talented and experienced professionals, refreshed the structure of our Insurance and Reinsurance operations and created centralized and regional roles to capture the strengths of our people. We have exceeded expectations on business and talent retention from the transaction, as well as exceeded our expected operational efficiencies for 2015, demonstrating the success of these integration efforts. At the same time, we have continued our momentum in growing our global footprint, teams and product portfolio.
We have also continued to inject new leadership into our Board, starting with the appointment of Stephen Catlin, who of course founded and led Catlin to its position of industry prominence and who we are very pleased is also serving as Executive Deputy Chairman of the Company. We also welcomed Michael Dill, a former board member of Catlin. Michael’s wealth of industry experience and knowledge, particularly regarding European insurers, complements the existing expertise of the Board, and he is a strong addition as we continue to drive value for shareholders.
Even with integration teams hard at work, XL produced solid results in 2015 in a tough (re)insurance market, demonstrating the Company’s unrelenting focus on quality underwriting and meeting the evolving needs of our clients.
We continue to prudently balance investment in our technology and talent with returning value to shareholders through our dividend and share buyback program. In 2015, XL returned almost $700 million of capital to our shareholders, comprised of $467 million in share buybacks and $212 million in dividends. And in August 2015, the Board authorized a new $1 billion share buyback program and increased the ordinary share dividend to $0.20 per share. As always, we remain committed to managing capital efficiently.
Our continued progress has gained recognition. S&P recently revised its outlook on our core operating subsidiaries to “Positive,” citing our strong management team and business risk profile, enhanced scale and increased product offering, and disciplined underwriting culture. In addition, S&P upgraded the ratings of two of the former Catlin subsidiaries from A to A+.
We made meaningful strides in 2015. However, the overall (re)insurance market remains extraordinarily difficult. As we near the anniversary of closing the Catlin transaction, we believe the Company’s hard work positions it well to navigate the tough market and to deliver new solutions to clients and financial benefits to shareholders.
I should like to take this opportunity to thank the Company’s management, particularly Mike McGavick and Stephen Catlin, for a job well done. I should also like to thank all of our constituents for their ongoing support and confidence in the Company. I look forward to updating you on our progress.
Eugene M. McQuade
Chairman, XL Group plc