Liberty Mutual Group Completes Safeco Acquisition

September 24, 2008

Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group finalized its acquisition of Seattle, Washington-based Safeco Corp. on Sept. 22 after entering the agreement in April.

While improving its scale and geographic reach, the transaction strengthens Liberty’s already nationally-established standing to fifth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S., with more than $32 billion in direct written premium based on 2007 results for both companies.

Gary Gregg, president of Liberty Mutual Agency Markets said the combination brings together exceptional people, products, services and technology to form an insurance powerhouse dedicated to the success of independent agents and brokers.

“Our employees are heartened and upbeat that we’ve been able to complete the merger in these difficult times,” Gregg said. “While there may be turmoil ahead, we are thinking long term.”

On April 23 the two companies entered into a definitive agreement where Liberty Mutual would acquire all outstanding shares of Safeco common stock for $68.25 per share. The companies’ boards of directors, Safeco’s shareholders, and the departments of insurance in California, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oregon, Texas and Washington had previously approved the transaction.

Safeco joins Liberty Mutual’s Agency Markets business unit, which now ranks third in personal lines and fifth in commercial lines in the independent agent distribution channel. The combined surety operation becomes the second largest in the country.

“This is a great opportunity to adopt the Safeco brand for personal lines,” Gregg said. “It’s a chance to move to a great technology platform with excellent quoting and claims capabilities.”

Liberty Mutual’s Agency Markets business unit consists of national and regional property and casualty, and specialty insurance companies that distribute personal, commercial, and surety products and services through independent agents and brokers.

“Our focus and culture is in our partnership with agents and we’ll continue to focus on our network of independent agents,” Gregg said. “If the agents are not successful, we’re not successful. That’s been our hallmark.”

Liberty’s new personal lines organization will operate nationally under the Safeco brand. Based on 2007 results, the combined operations have $4.9 billion in direct written premium, with $3.6 billion from Safeco and $1.3 billion from Agency Markets’ eight regional companies.

Liberty appointed Michael Hughes as executive vice president, Agency Markets, and president, Safeco Insurance. Hughes was previously executive vice president, Insurance Operations for Safeco. Paula R. Reynolds, formerly chairman, president and chief executive officer of Safeco, will be leaving the organization after a short transition period.

The new Safeco personal lines products will be sold in eight regions that align with the existing regional companies (America First Insurance, Central Region; Colorado Casualty, Mountain Region; Golden Eagle Insurance, California; Indiana Insurance, Midwest Region; Liberty Northwest, Northwest Region; Montgomery Insurance, Southeast Region; Ohio Casualty, Mid-Atlantic Region; and Peerless Insurance, Northeast Region).

The new commercial lines organization, under eight regional company brands, has $5.7 billion in direct written premium, combining $3.8 billion from the regional companies with $1.9 billion from Safeco based on 2007 results. Scott Goodby, executive vice president, Agency Markets and president, Regional Companies Group, will continue to lead the commercial lines organization.

The new surety operation has $773 million in combined direct written premium based on 2007 results, and will offer a complete range of surety and fidelity products to a broad spectrum of customers. Timothy Mikolajewski has been appointed executive vice president, Agency Markets and president, Liberty Mutual Surety. Mr. Mikolajewski had been senior vice president, Safeco Surety.

Summit, Liberty’s specialty workers’ compensation company will continue to operate in its 10-state Southeastern footprint. Summit has $698 million in direct written premium based on 2007 results and continues to be led by Rick Hodges, president and chief executive officer.

Source: Liberty Mutual Group

Topics Mergers & Acquisitions Agencies

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.