Business Moves

June 18, 2007

Blackstone Group, Alliant

Alliant Insurance Services Inc., one of the nation’s largest insurance brokerage firms, announced that The Blackstone Group, in partnership with Alliant’s management and employees, will acquire the company from its current owners comprised of the investment firm Lindsay Goldberg and Alliant’s management and employees. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Tom Corbett, chairman and CEO of Alliant said, Blackstone’s financial resources and commitment to work strategically with management teams will enable Alliant to continue to expand and remain independent. In addition to Corbett, the senior management team includes Greg Zimmer, chief financial officer, and Jerry Hall, chief operating officer.

Alliant is a specialty insurance broker based in Newport Beach, Calif. Alliant’s network of companies includes Driver Specialty Group, Alliant Specialty Insurance Services, Alliant Risk Services Group, Franey Muha Commercial Group and Kelter Commercial Group. Last October, Alliant acquired the U.S.-based property and casualty insurance and employee benefits businesses of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc (JLT).

QBE, Praetorian, Winterhur

Australia’s QBE Insurance Group Limited became a major player in the U.S. market with the closing of its acquisitions of Praetorian Financial Group and Winterthur U.S. The transactions were approved by all of the regulators involved by the end of May.

Now Praetorian, General Casualty and Unigard are part of QBE. The acquisitions place QBE the Americas in the top 20 U.S. property/casualty insurers with more than $4.6 billion in annual gross written premiums and policyholders’ surplus of $2.0 billion. Its U.S. divisions now account for nearly 40 percent of the QBE’s annualized gross premium income.

Hilb Rogal & Hobbs, Charlton Manley

Virginia-based insurance broker Hilb Rogal & Hobbs Co. is acquiring substantially all of the assets of Charlton Manley Inc., a Kansas insurance agency which reported $10 million in annual revenues in 2006. Terms were not disclosed. Primarily a mid-market agency, Charlton Manley’s areas of specialization include construction, medical professional liability, truckers’ liability, schools and school athletic programs. The staff of 70 will continue to serve clients from their offices in Lawrence, Topeka, and Overland Park, expanding HRH’s current Kansas presence beyond Wichita and Pittsburg. Charlton Manley will join HRH’s Central Region.

Independence Blue Cross, Highmark

Federal antitrust regulators have approved a merger between Pennsylvania’s two largest health insurers. The Federal Trade Commission gave the green light to the marriage between Highmark Inc. of Pittsburgh and Independence Blue Cross, based in Philadelphia.

The merger had roused antitrust concerns among doctors, hospitals and lawmakers, because combined they would become the largest health insurer in the state with 53 percent of the market. The state Senate passed a bill giving the insurance department authority over mergers between holding companies of nonprofit insurers, retroactive to Jan. 1.

Independence currently serves 3.4 million members, mainly in the Philadelphia area, and employs 9,500. Highmark has 4.6 million members, mostly in the western part of the state, and employs 18,500, more than half of them in Pennsylvania.

Gowrie, Barden & Brett; Customer One

Westbrook, Conn., agency Gowrie, Barden & Brett has acquired Customer One Financial of Old Saybrook, an originator of boat and recreational vehicle financing. Cathy Comstock, president of the finance firm, will now serve as president of the agency’s finance division.

GNY Insurance

GNY Insurance Companies has expanded its business operations in the Midwest. The company is adding staff to better handle the business growth that began when it started writing in the Midwest earlier this year, according to Warren Heck, GNY chairman and chief executive officer. He said GNY will begin by working with commercial insurance brokers in Illinois, and subsequently expand into all of the Midwestern states.

Sharon Kenny will manage the new operation, which is based in Chicago. Kenny has been working with Illinois brokers, independent agents and wholesalers for 24 years.

Heck said that GNY is looking to form partnerships with commercial lines producers, particularly those with habitational business in the Midwest.

Navigator’s Group

The Navigators Group Inc.’s principal underwriting agency subsidiary, Navigators Management Co., has established the Specialty Program Division. Products underwritten for niche markets will include property, general liability and commercial automobile insurance. Rick Cullen has joined Navigators as president of the division. Cullen has been involved in specialty programs and products for 15 years.

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Insurance Journal West June 18, 2007
June 18, 2007
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Workers’ Compensation Directory; Agency Options: Networks, Financing, Planning; Corporate Profiles