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Two specialist insurance investment banks to merge

Posted On: May. 23, 2007 12:00 AM CST

CHICAGO--Insurance industry dealmakers Cochran Caronia Waller and Fox-Pitt, Kelton have themselves agreed to merge, expanding their advisory services and capital-raising capabilities for insurance and financial services industry clients.

The merger, announced Wednesday, is expected to close in the third quarter, pending regulatory and other approvals. The merged investment banking firm, which will be known as Fox-Pitt, Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller, will specialize in insurance and financial services.

George Cochran and Len Caronia, managing directors and co-founders of CCW, will be co-chairmen of the merged firm. Giles Fitzpatrick, chief executive officer of FPK, will remain CEO, and CCW Managing Director John Waller will become president of the new firm.

The two firms began discussing a combination "in earnest" in December, at a time when FPK was looking to strengthen its U.S. presence, said Mr. Fitzpatrick. "It was just a happy coincidence of economic factors that brought us together. It was really a nice fit for both of us and accretive, too," he said. The merged firm will concentrate on insurance and will "pick our spots across the broader financial services sector," Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

Cochran Caronia Waller, based in Chicago and with offices in New York, was founded in 1997. The firm specializes in the property/casualty and life/health insurance and related businesses, including insurance brokerage. Among the deals on which the firm has advised are: Willis Group Holdings Ltd.'s sale of wholesale brokerage Stewart Smith Co. to American Wholesale Insurance Group Inc. and Crawford & Co.'s purchase of Broadspire Services Inc.

Fox-Pitt, Kelton, founded in 1971 and based in London, has offices in Boston; Hartford, Conn.; Hong Kong; New York and Tokyo. The firm provides equity research, advisory and capital-raising services to banks, insurance companies and other financial services businesses. It was formerly part of Swiss Reinsurance Co. and was acquired in June 2006 by a consortium of investors led by J.C. Flowers & Co. L.L.C.