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Insurers subpoenaed in municipal GIC probe
Several financial guarantee insurers have been subpoenaed by the antitrust division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and, in some cases, by the Securities and Exchange Commission in an investigation of brokers of municipal guaranteed investment contracts. Companies that say they have received subpoenas include units of American International Group Inc., XL Capital Ltd. and General Electric Co. A Justice Department spokeswoman said, "The antitrust division is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices in the municipal bond industry."
Becker named Max Re CEO
W. Marston Becker has been named chairman and chief executive officer of Max Re Capital Ltd. Mr. Becker was installed as acting chairman and CEO by Max Re's board of directors following the departure late last month of Max Re founder Robert J. Cooney, who stepped down from the helm of the reinsurer in the wake of a reopened probe into the company's accounting of two finite risk contracts. Mr. Becker--a director at Hamilton, Bermuda-based Max Re since April 2004--previously served as chairman and CEO of Bermuda insurer Trenwick Group Ltd., and led the runoff for LaSalle Re Holdings Ltd.
AmWINS plans $115 million IPO
AmWINS Group Inc. will seek to raise as much as $115 million in an initial public offering of common stock, the nation's largest wholesaler said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Charlotte, N.C.-based wholesaler is owned by private equity firm Parthenon Capital L.L.C. and AmWINS employees. Specifics of the IPO were not disclosed, although AmWINS said it is seeking to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "AGI."
Options probe delays UnitedHealth report
UnitedHealth Group Inc. has delayed filing its third-quarter earnings report with the Securities and Exchange Commission due to lingering uncertainty over potential earnings charges related to a stock options probe. While the Minnetonka, Minn.-based insurer said it has substantially completed its internal analysis of a report that found several stock option grants awarded to company executives were backdated, the company is not yet able to determine the final amount of charges to be included in resulting financial restatements. The insurer, though, expects that a restatement of several years of financial results could reduce earnings by more than the $286 million that was estimated previously, according to an SEC filing.
Starr renames marine agency
C.V. Starr & Co. Inc. has renamed its marine insurance unit to fit under the Starr companies' banner. Effective immediately, American International Marine Agency of New York Inc. will be known as Starr Marine Agency Inc., New York-based Starr said in a statement.
Liberty Mutual gets Vietnam license
Liberty Mutual Group Inc. has been given a license by the Vietnam Ministry of Finance to operate a wholly owned general insurance company in the country, according to the insurer. With the license, Liberty Mutual will operate a general insurance company that provides property, liability, marine cargo and commercial auto coverage to small and midsize enterprises throughout Vietnam, as well as personal lines insurance. The insurer opened its first representative office in Hanoi in 2003.
PBGC sets date for penalty waiver rule
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s final rule providing policy guidance on premium penalty waivers will take effect Dec. 18. The agency can assess penalties when premiums are not paid on time, though it can waive the penalties if it determines there is "reasonable cause" for the late payment. The rule, which provides guidance on what constitutes reasonable cause, states that, in general, reasonable cause exists when the failure arises from circumstances beyond the payer's control or the payer could not avoid the failure by exercising ordinary business care and prudence.
Fairfax seeks sale of Odyssey Re shares
Odyssey Re Holdings Corp. has filed a registration statement to sell up to 9 million of its common shares in a secondary offering. The Securities and Exchange Commission filing was made at the request of Stamford, Conn.-based Odyssey Re's parent and majority shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., Odyssey Re said in a statement. Under the proposed share offer, Odyssey Re will not receive any proceeds from the sale, and Fairfax will continue to own a majority of the reinsurer's shares.