QBE Insurance Group announced Wednesday it has agreed to acquire Optima Insurance Group, an underwriting group in Puerto Rico that posted an estimated $100 million in gross written premium in 2011. The financial terms of the deal were not revealed.
The transaction includes Colonial Insurance Agency, a managing general agent on the island; Optima Insurance Company, a property and casualty insurer, and New Century Financial Corp., which provides financing for Optima and Colonial clients.
The transaction is expected to close in March 2012 and is subject to regulatory approval by the Puerto Rico Insurance Commissioner’s Office.
QBE Latin America Chief Executive Officer José Sojo said the acquisition supports QBE’s commitment to growing the business through product and geographical diversification and new distribution channels. It also strengthens its position as a leading insurer in the region.
QBE Insurance Group Limited is one of the top 20 insurers and reinsurers worldwide. Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, QBE operates out of 52 countries around the globe, with a presence in every key insurance market.
The Americas Division, headquartered in New York, conducts business through various property and casualty insurance subsidiaries in 10 countries. QBE’s Americas Division produced $5.2 billion in gross written premium in 2010 and an 89.7 percent combined operating ratio. QBE Insurance companies are rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best and “A+” by Standard and Poor’s.
Optima Insurance Group focuses on small and mid-size selected property and casualty commercial risks and personal lines. Insurance is distributed through a wide network of independent brokers and agents, along with diverse agreements with local financial entities.
Sojo said this acquisition will complement QBE’s business in the region.
“Optima’s team has a deep knowledge of their business and of the Puerto Rico insurance market,” Sojo said. “With this acquisition, we reinforce our strategy to keep growing in Latin America through acquisition of companies that produce solid underwriting profits.”
Meanwhile Antonio Ortíz, Optima Insurance Group CEO and founder, said, “a shareholder like QBE will provide Optima with access to exceptional financial strength, better products and enhanced reinsurance capacity, which we will leverage to provide a superior offering to our customers, producers and employees.”
Ortíz will retain his CEO position as QBE´s top executive in Puerto Rico.