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Market Moves


Hub International acquisition completed

CHICAGO—Apax Partners and Morgan Stanley Principal Investments have completed their $1.90 billion buyout of Hub International Ltd. and taken the Chicago-based insurance brokerage private.

Hub shareholders approved the $41.50 per common share private equity buyout June 5, which was sweetened following competing proposals (BI, March 26; March 5).

"We look forward to working with Marty Hughes and the rest of the management team to grow the business both organically and by supporting Hub's long-established acquisition strategy," said Mitch Truwit, a partner at Apax, in a statement.

Hub Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Martin Hughes said it will be business as usual. "There won't be any changes really in our strategy, our operations," he said. Apax and Morgan Stanley Principal Investments "bought into our (growth) strategy, which is why we're so comfortable moving forward."

Hub delisted its stock on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges in mid-June, and said the deal was valued at $1.76 billion plus assumption of $145 million in debt.

An advantage of going private is more time to focus on building the business, Mr. Hughes said. As a public company, "I spent 65 days a year with the investment community."

Even so, Mr. Hughes said most Sarbanes-Oxley Act provisions will be kept since at some future point "the assumption is we're going to go public again."

Hub was the 12th-largest U.S. insurance brokerage in BI's 2006 ranking.

QBE finalizes purchases of Winterthur U.S., Praetorian

NEW YORK—QBE Holdings Inc., the U.S. holding company of Australia's QBE Insurance Group Ltd., has completed the $2.51 billion purchases of Winterthur U.S. Holdings Inc. from Paris-based AXA Group and Praetorian Financial Group Inc. from Germany's Hannover Re Group.

The previously announced transactions (BI, Dec. 25, 2006, and Jan. 8) were completed May 31 following U.S. regulatory approvals, QBE said in an e-mail.

QBE's purchase of General Casualty Insurance Cos. and Unigard Insurance Group came a year after AXA S.A. bought Winterthur Group in a $10.9 billion deal with Credit Suisse Group (BI, June 16, 2006).

Winterthur U.S. Holdings Inc. has been renamed QBE the Americas and is based in New York. QBE Regional Insurance is the Sun Prairie, Wis., division overseeing General Casualty Insurance Co. of Sun Prairie and Unigard Insurance Group of Bellevue, Wash.

QBE's separate purchase of Praetorian includes New York-based Praetorian Insurance Co., Praetorian Specialty Insurance and Redland Insurance Co. Praetorian will remain in New York, but most staff will move effective today to QBE the Americas offices, QBE said in an e-mail. The office is at 88 Pine St., New York, 10005. The QBE Specialty Insurance division now oversees Praetorian.

"Praetorian, General Casualty and Unigard add substantial scale to QBE's consistently profitable insurance business" and "markedly" expand its specialty and regional offerings, said Tim Kenny, president and CEO of QBE the Americas, in a statement.

Integration of the units is expected to be "seamless," a spokeswoman said.

In an e-mail, QBE said it paid $2.51 billion for the acquisitions that includes repayment of a $557 million loan to the Winterthur U.S. parent.

The additions put QBE the Americas among the 20 largest U.S. property/casualty insurers, QBE said.

Watson Wyatt to buy Denver software firm

DENVER—Consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide of Arlington, Va., said it plans to buy WisdomNet Inc., a Denver-based talent management software and consulting firm.

WisdomNet would allow Watson Wyatt to provide clients with "a comprehensive suite of global people management services," said Paul Platten, global practice director of Watson Wyatt's human capital group, in a statement.

All WisdomNet principals will join Watson Wyatt and the deal, the price of which was not disclosed, is expected to close in July, Watson Wyatt said.

Magellan to provide services to more CIGNA markets

AVON, Conn.—Magellan Health Services Inc. said it has entered into a three-year agreement with CIGNA HealthCare to manage radiology benefits for about 900,000 additional members in four more U.S. markets.

In a statement, the Avon, Conn.-based specialty health care management organization said management of the new markets will begin in late 2007 or early 2008, bringing to 15 the number of markets and to about 4 million the number of CIGNA HealthCare members served.

Ironshore to offer E&S cover in Texas

HAMILTON, Bermuda—Ironshore Insurance Ltd. said it has won approval from Texas to provide excess and surplus insurance for property, property catastrophe and casualty coverages.

"Acceptance in the Texas marketplace is an exciting opportunity for Ironshore to provide Texas business owners with property catastrophe and property all-risk insurance coverages," said Les Rock, Ironshore's chief underwriting officer, in a statement.

Based in Hamilton, Bermuda, Ironshore was formed in 2006.

Brokerage BB&T purchases Reese Insurance Associates

RIVERDALE, Ga.—Raleigh, N.C.-based BB&T Insurance Services has acquired Riverdale, Ga.-based Reese Insurance Associates Inc. for an undisclosed amount, BB&T said.

Reese, which provides commercial and personal property, casualty and group benefits insurance, fills a void in the Georgia market, BB&T said.

The 25 Reese employees will remain with BB&T Insurance Services. They are to move to Fayetteville, Ga., in August, BB&T said in a statement.

Euler Hermes opens office in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—Paris-based Euler Hermes, a unit of Assurances Generales de France and a member of Munich, Germany-based Allianz A.G. Holding, has opened an office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Dubai city office will offer trade credit insurance to companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Euler Hermes will work with local partners Alliance Insurance Co., Al Buhaira Insurance, Assurance Saudi Fransi and Qatar Insurance Co., Euler Hermes said in a statement.

GCC members include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia aside from the UAE. The nations have shown "impressive economic development" in recent years, said Clemens von Weichs, chairman of Euler Hermes Group, in a statement.

The new office shares space already used by Alliance Insurance at Warba Centre in Dubai, a spokesman said. The telephone number is 971-4-266-3083.