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Mapfre, Commerce

Spain’s largest insurer, Mapfre S.A., said it has completed its acquisition of The Commerce Group Inc., the 20th largest auto insurer in the country.

Mapfre paid $36.70 per share of Commerce’s publicly traded stock, with a total merger consideration of $2.2 billion. The $36.70 per share price represents a 22.5 percent premium over the average share price of the previous 30 days when the deal was announced Oct. 30 last year.

The Commerce acquisition is the largest in Mapfre’s history. Massachusetts regulators approved the acquisition last month. On June 3, the deal gained approval of regulators in New York, California and Ohio, where Commerce has subsidiaries.

The Commerce Group, the largest auto and homeowners’ insurer in Massachusetts, had nearly $1.9 billion in direct written premium in 2007. The company is licensed in all 50 states and has operations in 17 states. In addition to Commerce Insurance and Citation Insurance in Massachusetts, Commerce’s property and casualty insurance subsidiaries include Commerce West Insurance Co. in California, American Commerce Insurance Co. in Ohio, and State-Wide Insurance Co. in New York.

Mapfre said it will maintain Commerce’s management team and headquarters in Webster, Mass. and will continue to write business in Massachusetts and across the U.S. through independent insurance agents.

Eastern Insurance, Anderson Agency

Eastern Insurance Group plans to acquire Marshfield, Mass.-based Anderson Insurance Services, Inc., an independent agency specializing in musical instrument insurance, along with auto, life, home, boat, annuities and business insurance.

Eastern Insurance Group is a subsidiary of Eastern Bank. CEO Peter Anderson founded Anderson Insurance in 1983, and has been selling insurance to musicians since 1991. In a 2007 profile in Insurance Journal, Anderson said the agency has about $1.5 million in revenues and eight full time employees. Instrument insurance represents close to 40 percent of his business, he said.

Max Specialty, Guaranty Casualty

Max Specialty Insurance Co., of Richmond, Virginia, the U.S. excess and surplus lines unit of Max Capital Group Ltd., acquired Commercial Guaranty Casualty Insurance Co., an insurance entity licensed to write business in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The acquired operation will support the Max Specialty team’s entry into inland and ocean marine underwriting.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Pending regulatory approval of the deal, Max Specialty said it plans to change Commercial Guaranty’s name to Max America Insurance Co.

Liberty Mutual, Safeco

The legal waiting period during which federal officials might object to Liberty Mutual Group’s proposed acquisition of Safeco Corp. has expired.

The end of the waiting period, part of the Hart Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, satisfies a condition to the closing of the proposed acquisition.

On April 23, 2008, Liberty Mutual proposed buying all outstanding shares of common stock of Safeco for $68.25 per share in cash. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2008.

Liberty Mutual, Dabur

The Liberty Mutual Group will partner with Dabur GI Invest Corp. to form a non-life insurance company in India to provide personal and commercial insurance products through a range of distribution channels such as agents, banks and car dealers.

The initiative is structured as a joint venture between Liberty Mutual and Dabur.

Under the agreement, Liberty Mutual, through a subsidiary, will initially hold a 26 percent stake in the new company and Dabur will hold 74 percent. The agreement allows Liberty Mutual to increase its stake as changes to Indian law permit. Upon approval by Indian regulators, the new entity will operate under the name Dabur Liberty General Insurance Co.

Plans call for a license application to be filed before the end of June.


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