Business Moves

May 21, 2007

Alleghany, Employers Direct

New York-based Alleghany Corp. agreed to purchase the outstanding shares of California-based Employers Direct Corp. for $195 million in cash.

EDC, which was founded in 2002, is an insurance holding company based in Agoura Hills, Calif. Through its wholly owned subsidiary Employers Direct Insurance Co., EDC writes workers’ compensation on a direct basis in California.

EDC reports insuring 740 of California-based, mid-sized, private businesses. The average policyholder pays about $240,000 annually, according to the company. At the end of 2005, EDC reported having more than $150 million in written workers’ compensation premiums.

Alleghany Corp., with $6.2 billion in assets and $2.5 billion in stockholders’ equity, is engaged in the property/casualty insurance business through its subsidiary Alleghany Insurance Holdings LLC, which consists of RSUI Group, Capitol Transamerica Corp. and Darwin Professional Underwriters Inc.

The approximately 175 employees of EDC are expected to remain with the company, including co-founders: Chairman, President and CEO James E. Little, and Vice Chairman, Executive Vice President and CFO Ronald A. Groden.

The transaction is between Alleghany Corp. and EDC shareholders, primarily Golden Gate Capital and a private equity fund managed by Swiss Re, and is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2007.

Personnel Insurance Services,

Portal Insurance Agency

Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Personnel Insurance Services Inc., a benefits administrator and insurance agency for the nonprofit community, is changing its name to Portal Insurance Agency Inc.

The company said the new name reflects its expansion of services beyond its outsourced benefits administration program. The company remains the administrator for the United Group Insurance Trust.

Charles Yeomans, Portal’s President and CEO, indicated he plans to grow the company to provide a greater array of employee benefits, insurance, human resource administration and pension management solutions throughout California and nationally by way of acquisitions and partnerships.

Wells Fargo, Greater Bay Bancorp, ABD Insurance

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to buy Greater Bay Bancorp in a stock swap estimated at about $1.5 billion.

East Palo Alto-based Greater Bay has $7.4 billion in assets, more than 1,800 employees, and has 41 branches in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Mid-Peninsula Bank, Golden Gate Bank and Santa Clara Valley National Bank.

Greater Bay also owns ABD Insurance and Financial Services, the nation’s 15th largest retail insurance broker, with locations along the West Coast, and Matsco Financial Corp., according to the company.

The acquisition will give Wells Fargo a 20.6 percent market share in the San Francisco Bay Area, Wells Fargo President and Chief Operating Officer John Stumpf said in a statement.

Wells Fargo is offering about $28.50 for each share of Greater Bay. The price will be based on the average closing price of Wells Fargo shares over the 10 days prior to a shareholder meeting of Greater Bay.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Symetra, Medical Risk Managers

Bellevue, Wash.-based Symetra Financial agreed to acquire Medical Risk Managers Inc. of South Windsor, Conn. The deal is expected to close by the end of second quarter 2007.

Symetra provides employee benefits, retirement plans, annuities and life insurance, and medical stop loss coverage for employers that self-insure their group health plans. MRM is a managing general underwriter and health care network consulting firm specializing in the stop loss market.

MRM will remain in South Windsor and manage staff and operations independently as a wholly owned subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corp. Mike McLean, CEO of MRM, will continue to lead the company.

Symetra Financial is owned by an investor group led by White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The Flood Insurance Agency, BancInsure

The Flood Insurance Agency, Kalispell, Mont., entered into an agreement with BancInsure Inc., in which BancInsure will market TFIA’s flood insurance compliance solution to new and existing bank clients.

TFIA markets Federal Emergency Management Administration standard flood hazard area determinations, FEMA standard flood insurance policies and FEMA lender placed flood insurance.

A private label program provides BancInsure with a name-branded Web site, bancinsure.floodcert.com. A second private label program, www.bancinsureflood.com, advertises the BancInsure name and logo on FEMA standard flood insurance policies. A third site, www.MPPPFlood.com, is designed to keep lenders’ loan portfolios in compliance with federal flood insurance regulations.

TFIA is an independent agency that provides flood insurance to individual property owners, insurance agents, mortgage lenders and public housing authorities.

BancInsure is an independent insurer that focuses on financial institutions.

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, based in Chicago, has opened three offices — in Charlotte, N.C., Dallas and California’s Silicon Valley in Menlo Park.

The Charlotte office has a group of capital markets attorneys with expertise in financing, including commercial mortgage-backed securitizations and other commercial real estate finance and equity investment services.

The Dallas office will represent clients in Texas and across the South and West. Services will include patent litigation, government litigation and investigations, complex commercial litigation, health care enforcement and compliance, and employee benefits and executive compensation.

The Silicon Valley office will serve clients in patent litigation, venture technology, intellectual property, fund services, general litigation and corporate counseling.

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Insurance Journal West May 21, 2007
May 21, 2007
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