Safeco moves to New York Stock Exchange, to Lay off 240
Seattle-based Safeco intends to list its common stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Safeco anticipates the trading of its common stock to commence on the NYSE on Nov. 30, 2006, under the symbol “SAF.” Until that time, shares will continue to trade on the NASDAQ National Market under “SAFC.”
“We look forward to our association with the New York Stock Exchange, where most of our national peers are listed,” said Paula Rosput Reynolds, Safeco president and CEO.
Meanwhile, the company announced plans to lay off or reassign 240 employees as part of a restructuring aimed at cutting $75 million from annual expenses by the end of the year.
Most of the employees affected will lose their jobs, Safeco Spokesman Paul Hollie said, adding that the cuts will be nationwide and across all departments.
Safeco has about 9,000 employees in the United States. In the past three years, its work force has been trimmed from 11,000 by both job cuts and the sale of its life insurance and investments business.
The company disclosed its layoff plans in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
USI, Universal American Agency
USI Holdings Corp., Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., acquired a book of business from Universal American Insurance Agency Inc., which sells personal property and casualty coverage to home buying customers of one of the nation’s leading home builders.
The book of business represents more than $6 million of annualized revenues for USI. It will become part of USI’s Affinity division, which markets insurance products to the membership and customer base of associations, trade groups and other sponsoring organizations.
Marsh & McLennan, Putnam
Marsh & McLennan Cos. is exploring the possible sale of its Boston-based mutual funds division, Putnam Investments.
In June 2005, the company said it conducted a strategic review of its operations and would not sell or spin off any of them, including Putnam. But Putnam, which was the first company accused of wrongdoing in a 2003 scandal over mutual fund market-timing practices that eventually enveloped much of the industry, has suffered a steady loss of funds since then.
In April 2004, Putnam agreed to a fine of $110 million to settle allegations by federal and Massachusetts regulators of allowing improper market timing, or rapid in-and-out trades by favored clients, hurting long-term shareholders. In March 2005, the company agreed to pay $83.5 million more to current and former fund shareholders to resolve the allegations.
Putnam’s assets under management reached as high as $277 billion before the scandal. In its second-quarter earnings report last month, Marsh & McLennan said revenues at Putnam declined 10 percent to $339 million; average assets under management were $185 billion, down from $196 billion in the second quarter of 2005.
In late September, Marsh & McLennan shares rose 19 cents to $29.19 in aftermarket trading on the INET electronic exchange, after closing up $1.19, or 4.3 percent, at $29 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Marsh & McLennan announced it would cut 750 jobs, consolidate locations and revamp its information technology structure to cut costs. None of the cuts would affect Putnam, which employs more than 3,000, the parent company said. In addition to its Boston headquarters, Putnam has offices in London and Tokyo, and Massachusetts offices in Andover, Franklin and Norwood.
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Appalachian Underwriters, CRC Workers’ Comp Unit
Appalachian Underwriters Inc. purchased CRC Insurance Service’s guaranteed cost workers’ compensation program.
The program mirrors that of Appalachian’s existing state and carrier footprint closely, according to Bob Arowood, president and chief operating officer of AUI, based in Clinton, Tenn.
Appalachian Underwriters, a managing general agency, provides independent agents a national wholesale outlet to markets for workers’ compensation, commercial specialty and personal lines of insurance.
CRC Insurance Services Inc. is the wholesale insurance subsidiary of Branch Banking and Trust Co.
Quanta, WSP Group
Quanta Capital Holdings Ltd. completed the sale of Environmental Strategies Consulting LLC to WSP Environmental Holdings Inc., a division of the U.K.-based management and consulting firm WSP Group PLC.
Quanta, in runoff except for its Lloyd’s operation, indicated it was pursuing a sale of ESC. The company said the sale resulted in proceeds of $11.3 million in cash plus forgiveness of inter-company debt of approximately $1 million, subject to certain post closing adjustments.
WSP indicated it secured the long term commitment of the existing four principal members of the ESC Management Team, who each have been with the company for more than 10 years.
It added: “ESC provides WSP with the critical mass to expand its environmental activities in the United States and with ESC’s strength in the property sector, WSP sees considerable opportunities for cross selling services. In addition, the international nature of WSP’s existing environmental business will provide ESC with a worldwide footprint to provide their clients with global coverage.”
Aviva, Norwich Union
The United Kingdom’s Aviva PLC announced that its British business Norwich Union targeted some 4,000 jobs for elimination to reduce duplication and improve efficiency. That is expected to deliver annual cost savings of $470 million in 2008 at a cost of $470 million by the end of 2007.
The number of U.K. employees is presently around 36,000. Norwich plans to reduce that number by approximately 4,000 by 2008, with up to 1,000 roles off-shored to India and a further 500 roles will be outsourced to third-party IT suppliers. The announcement jibes with previous announcements that 7,800 roles will be located offshore by the end of 2007.
Aviva said Norwich “will seek to minimize the number of compulsory redundancies through natural staff turnover and voluntary measures. The savings primarily arise from cost efficiencies and reducing duplication in marketing, human resources, finance, and information technology, as well as applying a single approach to procurement and supplier management.”
An update on Norwich Union’s UK life strategy will be presented on 26 October to analysts and investors.
York Insurance Services, Southern California Risk Management
York Insurance Services Group Inc., a Parsippany, N.J.-based insurance services provider, acquired Eventide Risk Management LLC, a provider of workers’ compensation and medical cost containment services in California, and its subsidiaries.
Eventide is the parent company of Southern California Risk Management Associates Inc. and Medical Audit and Management Inc. SCRMA’s management team will continue to be led by CEO Rick Taketa and President Jody Gray.
Taketa will become president of York Risk Management Associates, York’s newly formed combined workers’ compensation and medical cost containment business. Eventide Co-Founder and Chairman Ken Alston will focus on strategic acquisitions and projects for the company.
Financing for the transaction was arranged through Odyssey Investment Partners, York’s majority shareholder.
York Insurance is an insurance services business focused on the property and casualty industry.