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Hiscox acquires livestock insurer in U.S. expansion


HAMILTON, Bermuda--Specialty insurer Hiscox Ltd. has acquired insurance holding company ALTOHA Inc., subsidiary American Live Stock Insurance Co. and affiliated insurance agency Harding & Harding Inc. for $55 million.

Privately held ALTOHA and its subsidiaries are based in Geneva, Ill., and have a staff of 23.

American Live Stock Insurance Co. is admitted in all 50 U.S. states, and its primary business is animal mortality insurance for cattle and horses.

The company also provides coverage in Australia and South Africa, and offers farm owners coverage in selected areas.

In 2006, American Live Stock had $16.9 million in gross written premiums and a combined ratio of 80.9%. Harding & Harding places all of its business with American Live Stock.

Hamilton, Bermuda-based Hiscox said the acquisition is in keeping with the company's statement earlier this year that it planned to acquire an admitted U.S. insurer, adding that the acquisition will give Hiscox an opportunity to expand its U.S. operations and product offerings.

Hiscox opened its Armonk, N.Y.-based Hiscox USA operation in March 2006, and is in the process of rolling out its specialty products for small and midsize U.S. businesses.