QBE's roots began with the creation of The North Queensland Insurance Company Limited in October 1886. Established by James Burns, the company has successfully expanded its bases into 36 branches in less than 5 years since its inception; maintaining firms in locations, such as London, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.
By 1921, Bankers and Traders Insurance Company Limited came into being and became the “B” in QBE. Some three decades later, the mother corporation gained ownership of Equitable Probate and General Insurance Company Limited. This addition accounts for the “E.” And finally, a major merger between the primary company and Queensland Insurance brought the “Q,” which ultimately rounded out the corporation’s new name: QBE, one of Australia’s largest insurance companies to date.
Since its creation, the company has amassed a number of mergers and acquisitions. For one, it procured ownership of Universal Insurance Company of Ireland in 1988. During the same year still, the company bought out Imperial Chemical Reinsurance Limited. Then, in 1992, the Australian Eagle Insurance Company was also acquired. Along the way, QBE International Insurance Limited also gained ownership of pocket overseas portfolios and expanded its business ventures in Thailand.
QBE’s growth accelerated way into the 90s. It made its presence known in the North American industry via a buyout of the American Royal Reinsurance Company in 1993. The year after, it entered Indonesia. Some two years later, it proceeded to take over the Allstate Reinsurance Company Limited, a company based in the United Kingdom. Two more acquisitions were made in the same decade. The first being a 1997 74.9% takeover of the Trade Indemnity Australia; while the second took place in 1999 with the takeover of the Iron Trade Insurance Company Limited.
QBE boasts an estimated overall value of AU$27 billion. Its 2006 fiscal reports show a net profit of $1.43 billion. Lately, in 2007, QBE gained ownership of yet another company. This time, it is the $26 million Mexican insurer Seguros Cumbre SA de CV.
QBE operates under the names QBE Reinsurance Corporation and QBE Insurance Corporation in the Americas; while it goes by QBE Specialty Insurance Company in America. The company also maintains bases in Mexico, Peru, Panama, Argentina, Colombia, and Bermuda.