Specialty Insurer James River Raises $231M in IPO

By and | December 11, 2014

James River Group Holdings Ltd., the specialty insurer backed by hedge fund company D.E. Shaw & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., raised $231 million in an initial public offering, pricing its shares below the marketed range.

Existing investors Shaw and Goldman Sachs sold 11 million shares for $21 apiece, according to a statement, after offering them for $22 to $24 each. The company didn’t sell any shares and won’t receive any proceeds from the offering. The stock will begin trading tomorrow, listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker JRVR.

D.E. Shaw, founded by billionaire David Shaw, will still own about half of Bermuda-based James River after the IPO, the prospectus indicates. The hedge fund firm purchased James River for more than $560 million in 2007. Goldman Sachs will own about 7 percent.

James River focuses on providing insurance for small- and medium-sized businesses in specialty markets that have fewer competitors and carry “unique” risks, it said. Ride-sharing service Uber Technologies Inc. uses James River to insure its drivers. That includes $1 million of liability coverage per incident, a July insurance certificate shows.

Most of the company’s sales come from excess and surplus lines, or coverage that isn’t licensed by a state. The E&S market focuses on more complicated underwriting.

James River’s premiums for ride-sharing — or transportation network — companies, like Uber climbed to $18.7 million in the first nine months of this year from about $1.7 million in the same period in 2013, according to the prospectus.

The insurer has also taken a non-traditional approach to its investments. About a fifth of James River’s $1.2 billion portfolio was in bank loans at the end of September, filings show. The debt tends to be junk-rated and offers higher yields than the investment-grade credit that insurers typically hold to back policies.

Stifel Financial Corp.’s Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., UBS Group AG, FBR Inc. and Bank of Montreal managed the sale.

–With assistance from Jing Cao in New York

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