Canadian Underwriter

Wawanesa subsidiary Trimont Financial to acquire Western Financial Group and Western Life Assurance from Desjardins Group

February 16, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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Trimont Financial Ltd., a subsidiary of The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, announced on Thursday that it will acquire Western Financial Group and Western Life Assurance (together as Western) from Desjardins Financial Corporation, a Desjardins Group subsidiary, for a total transaction value of about $775 million.

The transaction includes Western’s primary business units: its brokerage network, Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions, Coast Capital Insurance Services and Western Life Assurance. It is subject to standard closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017, Wawanesa reported in a press release.

Western’s brokerage network will continue to offer customers a broad range of products from a wide range of insurers and will continue to operate under the Western Financial Group name. There are no plans to close or relocate any of Western’s existing brokerage locations and all of the Western companies will continue their respective regular operations.

“Wawanesa has a long history of supporting the success of insurance brokers, and this investment reflects our continued commitment to the broker channel,” said Wawanesa’s president and chief executive officer, Jeff Goy, in the release. “Today’s announcement will ensure that Western Financial Group remains a trusted, familiar local broker in communities across western Canada.”

Denis Berthiaume, Desjardins Group’s chief operating officer, said that he wanted to thank Western for their commitment and continued hard work. “We are also pleased that ownership of Western will remain in the cooperative-mutual sector, given Wawanesa’s shared values and customer focus,” he said. “Within Desjardins, we remain committed to our other distribution networks and partnerships across the country and focused on growth with them.”

With over 1,700 employees, Western provides personal and business insurance services through 157 office locations and affiliates in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.

The release noted that Wawanesa retained TD Securities Inc. and Deloitte LLP as financial advisors, MLT Aikins LLP as lead counsel and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP as regulatory counsel. Desjardins retained Desjardins Capital Markets as financial advisor and Stikeman Elliott LLP for its legal counsel.

Wawanesa Mutual Insurance is one of the largest property and casualty insurers in Canada with $3 billion in annual revenues and assets of more than $9 billion. Wawanesa Mutual, founded in 1896 and headquartered in Winnipeg, is the parent company of Wawanesa General, which offers property and casualty insurance in California and Oregon, and Wawanesa Life, which distributes life insurance products and services throughout Canada. With over 3,000 employees, Wawanesa serves over two million policyholders through nine regional offices and 41 service offices in Canada and the United States.

Trimont Financial Ltd., established in 1982, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance and provides direct supports to local brokers to assist with succession planning, growth, capital investment and other needs, the release said.

Desjardins Group has assets of more than $260 billion and offers a “full range” of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada.