Validus Holdings announced Monday that it signed a definitive agreement to acquire Western World Insurance Group for nearly $700 million, in a deal that leaves the management team and brand of the specialty insurer intact.

Under the deal terms, Western World’s owners will receive $690 million in cash in exchange for 100 percent of the outstanding stock of Western World.

Western World, through its subsidiaries, is a specialty lines insurance company with a 50-year track record of profitability and a pioneer in the binding authority business model, Validus said in a statement. The specialty carrier is based in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

Western World will continue to operate as a standalone business within Validus, led by its current management team and preserving Western World’s name, strong brand equity and market reputation.

The transaction brings Validus a highly regarded U.S. insurance carrier with longstanding agency and customer relationships, Validus said.

Ed Noonan, Chair and CEO, Validus Holdings
Ed Noonan, Chair and CEO, Validus Holdings

In a statement announcing the deal, Ed Noonan, Validus’ chairman and CEO, said, “Bringing together Validus, a leader in the short-tail insurance and reinsurance market, and Western World, with its excellent U.S. distribution platform, outstanding management and industry-leading technology, creates a franchise that will provide compelling products and services for our customers.”

Noonan has made no secret of his desire to acquire a U.S. insurance presence, complementing the group’s Bermuda reinsurance operations and London-based specialty insurance operation, Talbot Underwriters.

“The U.S. market is the world’s biggest. We really have never scratched the surface of it in our direct insurance operations,” he said during a first-quarter earnings conference call. “While the rate of increase for pricing in the U.S. is slowing,” he said, “it’s still positive. Rates are broadly attractive. So I would expect to see us expanding our footprint in the U.S. as a growth source,” he continued during the earnings call.

In Monday’s statement, Tom Mulligan, Western World’s CEO, called joining Validus “a great outcome for Western World.”

“Validus brings capital and expertise in short-tail classes of business, which will advance the competitive advantages in all of our underwriting divisions,” Mulligan said, adding that he and his colleagues looked forward to being able to provide additional products and capacity to their agents and customers through the relationship with Validus.

Validus anticipates the closing to take place near the end of the third quarter of 2014, subject to the obtaining of required regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Western World’s March 31, 2014 adjusted GAAP book value is estimated to be $518.3 million.

Validus intends to use existing funds for the transaction.

About Validus Holdings Ltd.

Validus Holdings Ltd. is a provider of reinsurance, insurance and insurance-linked securities management operating through three primary segments: Validus Reinsurance Ltd., Talbot Holdings Ltd. and AlphaCat Managers Ltd.

Validus Reinsurance Ltd. is a Bermuda-based reinsurer focused on short-tail lines of reinsurance.

Talbot Holdings Ltd. is the Bermuda parent of the specialty insurance group primarily operating within the Lloyd’s insurance market through Syndicate 1183.

AlphaCat Managers Ltd. is a Bermuda-based investment adviser managing capital for third parties and the group in insurance-linked securities and other property-catastrophe reinsurance investments.

About Western World

Western World Insurance Group Inc. is a specialty U.S. commercial insurer offering insurance products on a surplus lines basis and on an admitted basis through its subsdiaries.

Western World’s three operating companies are domiciled in New Hampshire and are headquartered in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

Source: Validus Holdings Ltd.

Topics USA Excess Surplus Reinsurance