Business Moves

July 20, 2009

Focus Holdings, Capacity Insurance

Focus Holdings, LLC in Sunrise, Florida, closed on its acquisition of Capacity Insurance Co. (CIC), a Florida domestic commercial lines insurer, effective July 1, 2009.

Focus, better known by the name of its largest subsidiary, MacNeill Group, Inc. traces its Florida roots back to 1946. CIC was established in Broward County in 1989.

Douglas W. Bullington, CEO of Focus Holdings, will assume the same role with Capacity Insurance Co. Joining Bullington will be an experienced team of insurance executives already part of the team at Focus.

CIC specializes in habitational and small mercantile risks. Bullingon said the company will also be looking to expand its eligible underwriting classes and product lines.

Insphere

A group of private equity investors, including affiliates of The Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, is launching a new life insurance and benefits brokerage serving the middle market and small businesses, Insphere Insurance Solutions.

The new company expects to be the nation’s largest independent career agent distribution group offering life, health, long-term care and retirement products for small businesses and the middle-income market.

Long-time New York Life executive Phillip J. Hildebrand has been named chief executive officer for the new company.

Insphere intends to enter into a marketing agreement with ING to distribute the company’s term life and universal life insurance products. The company expects to begin marketing ING insurance policies on a pilot basis in 90 days. It expects to build a force of 3,500 agents and offices in over 40 states by the time it begins services in 2010.

Towers, Perrin/Watson, Wyatt

Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby Inc. and Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc. have agreed to combine in a merger of equals to form a new, public company called Towers Watson & Co.

The value of the transaction is approximately $3.5 billion.

Watson Wyatt CEO John Haley will serve the combined company as CEO; Towers Perrin CEO Mark Mactas will serve as president.

AIG-21st Century/Farmers

American International Group has closed the sale of 21st Century Insurance Group, the wholly owned subsidiaries of AIG’s U.S. personal auto insurance business, to Farmers Group, Inc. (FGI), a subsidiary of Zurich for $1.9 billion.

The $1.9 billion price consists of $1.7 billion in cash and $200 million in face amount of subordinated, Euro-denominated capital notes backed by Zurich Insurance Co. Farmers also assumed 21st Century’s debt of $100 million. The deal includes 18 insurance companies and 10 related non-insurance entities.

The transaction excludes the Private Client Group, which provides property/casualty insurance to high-net-worth individuals under the AIU Holdings name.

In connection with the closing of the sale of 21st Century to Farmers, AIU Holdings sold its interest in 21st Century for $1.7 billion plus $200 million in notes backed by Zurich.

The AIG-Farmers deal went through a number of regulatory approvals. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) noted that nine of its member states approved the purchase. ”

Originally announced on April 16, 2009, the sale affects AIG’s personal auto lines in companies located in the following nine states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

This acquisition by the Farmers Exchanges should strengthen Farmers’ place as a personal lines insurer in the U.S., and position the Farmers Exchanges as the largest auto insurer in several states, including California. The acquisition is the largest in the 81-year history of Farmers.

The acquired companies operate in 49 states and Washington, D.C.; have more that 2.4 million customers; and insure 4 million vehicles.

According to Robert Woudstra, Farmers CEO, its national network of insurance agents will benefit from the acquisition. “This acquisition will enable 21st Century customers to have access to Farmers agents, who can help them with their other insurance needs, such as homeowners, business, specialty products, life insurance and financial service products,” he said.

Wells Fargo/Wachovia

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. said that Wachovia Insurance Services Inc. has changed its name to Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc. The combined business makes Wells Fargo the world’s fourth largest insurance firm and the largest bank-owned insurance brokerage in the United States, the company said.

Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc. will become a direct subsidiary of Wells Fargo Insurance Services next year.

Wells Fargo Insurance Services Inc., along with Wachovia Insurance Services, places $15.5 billion of risk premiums with expertise in property, casualty, benefits, international, personal lines and life products. The combined company has nearly 200 offices in 37 states and more than 7,500 insurance professionals.

Wells Fargo’s acquisition of Wachovia was approved in October 2008.

BrickStreet Mutual, West Virginia

Workers’ compensation insurer BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co. says it has completed an early payoff on a $200 million startup loan from West Virginia.

President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Burton says the Charleston-based company submitted the final $85 million on July 7 on the original principal.

Lawmakers provided Brickstreet the loan in 2006 to help underwrite startup costs. The company was given 10 years to repay the debt.

BrickStreet was spun off from a state agency and had a monopoly on workers’ compensation insurance in West Virginia until July 2008.

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Insurance Journal West July 20, 2009
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