Westfield said it has expanded into the international specialty insurance market by buying Lloyd’s Syndicate 1200 from Argo Group International Holdings for about $125 million.

The acquisition is expected to close during the first half of 2023 pending regulatory approval.

“This acquisition is our first step in establishing a global franchise for Westfield,” said Ed Largent, Westfield president and CEO, in a statement. “The international specialty market fits well with our growth ambitions, and the opportunity with Lloyd’s Syndicate 1200 jump-starts our entry into this market.”

Westfield said Syndicate 1200 has an estimated $650 million book of business, which is focused on various lines of specialty insurance.

“We’ve had our sights set on the international specialty market since launching our specialty business a year ago, so this is Westfield executing on our original strategy,” said Jack Kuhn, president of Westfield Specialty, in which the international operation will reside.

“We considered multiple pathways but acquiring Syndicate 1200 emerged as a unique opportunity because it gets us into the international specialty market quickly with an established platform while capitalizing on current market dynamics,” added Kuhn, who announced Graham Evans as head of international insurance at Westfield Specialty. Evans has held leadership roles at Chubb, CNA, AXIS and Sompo International. Westfield said Evans will develop Westfield Specialty’s international strategy and will lead the integration of Lloyd’s Syndicate 1200.

A year ago, Westfield, a super-regional property/casualty insurance company with a 173-year history, announced it would be diversifying by entering the specialty insurance business with the launch of Westfield Specialty and named Kuhn as president.

Last November, Westfield bought the renewal rights of Argo’s U.S. specialty property business. Westfield Specialty is expected to write $250 million of premium in 2022 during its first full year of operation, Westfield said.

On the other side of this latest transaction, Argo said the sale of its Lloyd’s Syndicate to Westfield will allow it to focus on being a U.S.-focused specialty insurer.

“Argo’s inherent value as a pure-play U.S. underwriter of specialty insurance has never been more evident than today,” said Tom Bradley, Argo’s CEO and executive chairman, in a statement. “Our board is confident in the simplified corporate structure and strong fundamentals of our core U.S. specialty businesses following our recently announced transactions with Westfield and Enstar. As we look ahead, we continue to consider a range of options to maximize shareholder value through the ongoing strategic review process.”

Last month, Argo said it entered into a loss portfolio transfer transaction with Enstar. A subsidiary of Enstar will reinsure the majority of Argo’s direct U.S. casualty insurance reserves from accident years 2011 through 2019 in an effort to improve Argo’s regulatory capital position and provide protection against reserve volatility, the company said.

Earlier this year Argo said its board of directors had initiated an exploration of strategic alternatives, including a potential sale. The board includes its largest investor, hedge fund manager J. Daniel Plants, as of August. Plants, who runs Voce Capital Management, serves on the strategic review and human resources committees.