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Nurses RRG, Florida Nurses Association

Sophia Palmer Nurses Risk Retention Group, Inc. will offer malpractice insurance to Florida nurses in partnership with the Florida Nurses Association.

The newly formed Risk Retention Group was capitalized by Ponce de Leon LTC RRG, Inc., a provider of professional liability insurance to long-term care facilities in Florida. The Uni-Ter Group of Atlanta, a subsidiary of New York-based U.S. RE Companies, an international financial services and reinsurance brokerage firm, will manage Sophia Palmer.

Named after Sophia Palmer, a founding member of the American Nurses Association, the RRG will be owned by nurses who become shareholders in the company.

Sophia Palmer will offer limits of $100,000 per event up to $250,000 aggregate for a policy year, or $250,000/$750,000. Members of the Florida Nurses Association will receive a 10 percent discount.

In order to be insured by Sophia Palmer, nurses must buy stock in the company. Advanced Practice Nurses and Physicians Assistants will pay 40 percent of their first year’s premium, payable over three years, to become shareholders. All other categories of nurses will buy two shares of stock at $25 per share.

Ponce de Leon LTC RRG Inc. was formed four years ago to provide a market for long-term care facilities that are required to have general and professional liability insurance.

Sophia Palmer offers malpractice insurance to: Medical Assistants, Certified Nursing Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, and Physicians’ Assistants. In order to qualify, Nurse Practitioners and Certified Nurse Midwives must be working under the general supervision of a physician.

Alliance Bank, Fredericksburg Insurance

Alliance Bankshares Corp., a community bank organization based in Chantilly, Va., said its subsidiary, Alliance Insurance Agency Inc., has acquired certain assets and liabilities of the Thomas Agency Inc., trading as Fredericksburg Insurance Group in a stock and cash transaction.

Jesse R. (Randy) Thomas Jr., president of Fredericksburg Insurance Group, will join Alliance as a senior vice president of the insurance subsidiary. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2007.

Hub, Apax Partners

Chicago-based insurance broker Hub International Limited reported that the agreement under which it is being bought by funds advised by Apax Partners together with Morgan Stanley Principal Investments has been amended to increase the consideration to be received by Hub’s shareholders to $41.50 in cash per common share from $40.00. The increase in consideration followed receipt by Hub of competing proposals.

In the event the amended agreement is terminated under specified circumstances, Hub will be obligated to pay a break-up fee of 3 percent of the equity value of the transaction ($53 million). The transaction is expected to be completed toward the end of the second quarter of 2007 and is subject to shareholder approval, Canadian court approval, and other regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Canada.

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Financial Services has withdrawn its controversial application seeking to start its own bank. The retailer was one among 14 companies including the Home Depot with applications before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to establish what are called industrial loan corporations, or ILCs. In January, the FDIC delayed a decision on the pending applications.

Various banks, unions and consumer organizations have opposed letting giant retailers into the loan business out of concern they would drive out local financial institutions.

Wal-Mart President Jane Thompson explained that her firm withdrew its application, which it first filed in 2005, rather than wait any longer. “Unlike dozens of prior ILC applications, Wal-Mart’s has been surrounded by manufactured controversy since it was submitted nearly two years ago. At no stage did we intend to use the ILC to establish branch banking operations as critics have suggested — we simply sought to reduce credit and debit card transaction costs” Thompson said.

There are now 61 ILCs with a total of about $141 billion in assets and $98 billion in deposits. Thirty-three are based in Utah, one of only seven states that grant charters for such banks. The banks are allowed to issue credit cards, take deposits and make loans. They cannot offer standard checking accounts if the bank’s assets exceed $100 million.

C.V. Starr, Chubb

C. V. Starr & Co. Inc. has organized a global accident and health company. To be headquartered in Greenwich, Conn., Starr Global Accident & Health Insurance Agency LLC has established a strategic relationship with The Chubb Corp. Through a network of program managers, the agency will underwrite employer stop loss insurance on behalf of the Chubb as its first product.

“Starr Global Accident & Health is another step in our continuous building of a business of specialized insurance products and services which is the hallmark of C. V. Starr,” commented Maurice R. Greenberg, chairman and CEO of C. V. Starr & Co., Inc. in New York.

Axa Group, Kyobo Auto

France’s Axa Group has reached an agreement with Kyobo Life to acquire its 75 percent stake in Kyobo Auto, a major South Korean direct automobile insurer, which has more than 800,000 clients, revenues of $370 million and a market share above 30 percent, according to Axa.

“The acquisition of Kyobo Auto is an excellent opportunity to enter as the leader in the South Korean direct property & casualty market, one of the fastest growing and most developed general insurance markets in Asia, and to significantly increase the size of Axa’s P&C operations in the region,” indicated Philippe Donnet, head of Axa’s Asia Pacific region.

Ark Syndicate, Lloyd’s

Ark Syndicate Management opened for business as Lloyd’s newest managing agency. Ark will assume the management of Syndicate 4020 with a 2007 capacity of $222 million.

The new Syndicate will underwrite a composite account to include casualty reinsurance, hull and cargo, marine aviation and transit reinsurance, energy, war and property direct and facultative, property reinsurance and marine and energy liability, said Lloyd’s.

Former Head of Insurance at Aspen Insurance Holdings Ian Beaton serves as the company’s CEO. David Foreman, who has more than 30 years’ experience at Lloyd’s, will be Ark’s chief underwriting officer.

Aquiline Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm established by former Marsh Chief Executive Jeff Greenberg, is providing Ark’s capitalization.

CastlePoint

Bermuda-based CastlePoint Holdings Ltd. held its initial public offering of 7,682,238 common shares on March 23. The company sold 7,562,738 shares and existing shareholders sold 119,500 shares at $14.50 per share. The IPO raised approximately $111 million.

CastlePoint’s shares began trading on the NASDAQ Exchange on March 23 under the trading symbol “CPHL.” CastlePoint said it has also granted the underwriters the option to purchase up to 1,134,410 additional shares.

The New York-based Tower Group Inc. entered into a “strategic relationship” with CastlePoint last year (See IJ web site April 5, 2006). It became the sole shareholder of its subsidiary CastlePoint Re in February after it invested $15 million in the company. Tower also has an 8.6 percent stake in CastlePoint.

MaxRe

Bermuda-based Max Re Capital Ltd. announced that it has received regulatory approval from the Delaware Department of Insurance to acquire a U.S.-based excess and surplus lines company. The company will be named Max Specialty Insurance Co. and will be based in Richmond, Virginia, with regional offices in Atlanta, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Max Re said the proposed new subsidiary is expected to complement the company’s existing insurance and reinsurance operations based in Bermuda and Dublin. It is headed by Stephen J. Vaccaro, Jr. as president and CEO.

“It is intended that the new Max subsidiary will operate across two divisions, Brokerage and Managing General Agency,” the company said.

Max expects to close the transaction to acquire the company shortly.


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