Guardian buys US insurer for pounds 19m

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Guardian is spending pounds 19m to buy a small US motor insurance specialist, the Indianapolis-based National Corporation.

National Corporation writes non- standard motor business in 13 states. The purchase increases from 10 to 17 the number of states in which Guardian operates in this market.

National Corporation and nine associated agencies manage the insurance business of the National Insurance Association, an insurance exchange. Last year, the National group made a pre-tax profit of pounds 3.6m (including an underwriting profit of pounds 2.4m) on gross premium income of pounds 35m.

Guardian said there was little territorial overlap with its existing US subsidiaries, Globe American and American Ambassador, purchased last December. The UK insurer, formerly Guardian Royal Exchange, will pay an initial pounds 13m, with pounds 3m to follow on the first two anniversaries of the deal's completion.

Jim McDonough, Guardian's international director, said: 'This purchase is part of Guardian's strategy to invest in selected businesses in key areas of the world, one of which is the USA.

'The synergy between the National group and our existing operations should bring powerful benefits to many parts of the business.'

The deal requires the approval of US regulators but is expected to be finalised by the end of May.

Guardian's shares fell 5p to close at 190p yesterday.