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Argonaut, PXRE

Argonaut Group Inc., a specialty underwriter headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and PXRE Group Ltd., a Bermuda-based property reinsurer, agreed to a merger under which the combined entity will do business as Argo Group International Holdings Limited.

Argo Group will become the Bermuda holding company for PXRE’s existing insurance subsidiaries, Argonaut Group’s U.S. operations, and a newly formed Bermuda reinsurer named Peleus Reinsurance Ltd. Argo Group will trade on The NASDAQ Stock Market under Argonaut Group Inc.’s existing ticker symbol AGII.

Mark E. Watson III, president and chief executive officer of Argonaut Group, will become the president and chief executive officer of Argo Group, subject to obtaining Bermuda regulatory approval. The Board of Directors for Argo Group will consist of the nine directors currently serving for Argonaut Group and four directors from PXRE Group, with a chairman elected from the resulting 13-member group.

PXRE’s newly formed Class 3 Bermuda subsidiary, Peleus Reinsurance Ltd., will serve as the specialty reinsurance platform for Argo Group and will be licensed to write business in Bermuda. Barbara C. Bufkin will be leaving her position as senior vice president, Corporate Business Development for Argonaut Group, to become the president of Peleus Re (subject to obtaining Bermuda regulatory approval). Peleus Re is expected to be assigned a rating by A.M. Best in the near future.

Completion of the transaction is contingent upon customary closing conditions, including the approvals of the common shareholders of PXRE and the common shareholders of Argonaut Group, as well as various regulatory approvals and notices. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2007.

Argonaut Group is a national underwriter of specialty insurance products in niche areas of the property and casualty market, with $3.7 billion in assets. Argonaut Group competes in three primary segments: Excess and Surplus Lines, Select Markets, and Public Entity. Members of Argonaut Group include Colony, Argonaut Specialty, Rockwood, Great Central, Grocers Insurance, Trident, and Argonaut Insurance.

PXRE, with operations in Bermuda, Europe and the United States, provides reinsurance products and services worldwide. PXRE’s primary focus is providing property catastrophe reinsurance and retrocessional coverage. PXRE also provides marine, aviation and aerospace products and services.

Travelers Oil and Gas

Travelers Oil & Gas recently unveiled an emergency response planning guide for managing well blowouts that occur on U.S. oil and gas land drilling operations. According to the company announcement, it is the first-ever such resource to provide a framework for establishing an early intervention and emergency response plan to address the catastrophic impact of blowouts.

As a supplement to the well contractor’s or operator’s oil spill contingency plan, the emergency response plan identifies procedures for handling scenarios that range from routine well control operations to situations involving a total loss of well control that would necessitate the immediate mobilization of personnel and equipment. The plan also provides guidance on ways to protect personnel; outlines notification steps to alert regulatory agencies; and defines critical information required for developing response strategies, organizing personnel and pre-selecting mobilization plans.

The emergency response plan was developed in conjunction with Wild Well Control Inc., a Houston-based leading supplier of firefighting, well control and related engineering services to oil and gas operations worldwide.

To obtain a copy of the emergency response plan and other helpful documents from Travelers Oil & Gas, visit www.travelers.com/oilgas.

Travelers Oil & Gas provides specialized property and casualty products for customers involved in the exploration and production of oil and gas. Targeted customers include firms operating onshore and offshore. Travelers Oil & Gas distributes its products through retail agents and through exclusive relationships with wholesale brokers Swett & Crawford of Dallas and J.H. Blades in Houston.

Powter Insurance, Anchor Insurance

Powter Insurance Agency Inc. of McKinney, Texas, announced it purchased Arlington, Texas-based Anchor Insurance Agency Inc. from Ron Brown. The Arlington location will be Powter Insurance Agency’s second location.

According the announcement, Powter, a 10 year old agency, has a 99 percent client retention rate and has live account managers answering Powter’s phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It offers a full line of products and uses only “A”-rated carriers. One of its largest clients is Dominos Pizza with 1600 franchisees nationwide.

Established in 1946 by Web Rose Jr., Anchor Insurance Agency has grown into a full service insurance agency. In 1998, the agency was purchased by Ronald R Brown, a veteran of 37 years experience in the insurance industry.

Brown is a charter member of NSACE, the National Society of Agents for Consumer Education. He has authored two consumer awareness guides: “Circle of Safety: How to Protect Yourself and Your Family with Today’s Insurance” and “How to Protect Yourself and Your Business with Today’s Insurance.”

Oden Insurance Services, Thomson

The Thomson Corporation, based in Eagan, Minn., acquired Tulsa, Okla.-based Oden Insurance Services Inc., a provider of insurance compliance and advisory information and workflow tools. Oden will be aligned with Thomson West in the company’s legal segment; terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Tim Wahlberg, Thomson West vice president, Strategic Marketing, Corporate Segment, said Oden’s editorial expertise and leadership position in the insurance compliance market provides a powerful complement to West’s legal research information and software offerings.

Wahlberg said Oden’s combination of high-value content and innovative workflow tools mirrors West’s product development strategy, and its insurance workflow software provides the foundation for extending West’s compliance and advisory strategy into other key specialized markets in the future.

Thomson West’s products include Westlaw Litigator and Westlaw Practitioner, as well as Regulations Plus, Regulations Suite and 50-State Surveys offerings.

Zurich, Bristol West

Swiss insurer Zurich Financial Services AG announced plans to acquire Bristol West Holdings Inc., an auto insurer based in Davie, Fla. The acquisition is expected to be completed through Zurich’s U.S. subsidiary Farmers Group Inc. Bristol West, which provides auto liability and physical damage insurance, recently announced it would begin offering coverage in Oklahoma, its 23rd state. Bristol West writes insurance only through independent producers and is looking to appoint additional qualified agents in Oklahoma to distribute its products


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