The sale of Universal Underwriters Group, one of the biggest providers of finance and insurance products to dealers, will not change the company's operations, executives say.
A group of investors led by Hellman & Friedman LLC, a private equity firm in San Francisco, signed a stock purchase agreement last month to acquire Universal Underwriters from Zurich Financial Services Group.
The investors expect to complete the $1.1 billion purchase in July.
The new owners say they plan to keep Universal Underwriters' management and employees and maintain its products and services.
The insurer's headquarters will remain in Overland Park, Kan.
Universal Underwriters says it will continue to expand its F&I business, which it began aggressively pursuing in 2002.
The company has offered F&I products since 1968.
"We are very excited about the current strategy and current management" of Universal Underwriters, says Melissa Ma, a director of Hellman & Friedman. "Our direction is to stay the course."
Universal Underwriters is the largest provider of property and casualty insurance to dealerships. It has an estimated 40 percent share of that market. It wrote $1.5 billion in gross premiums last year.
The company supplies more than 2,000 dealers with credit insurance, guaranteed automotive protection plans and extended service contracts.
Ma says Universal Underwriters attracted investors' interest because of its dominant position in dealership property and casualty insurance. She also cites the company's growing F&I business and its experience in auto retailing.
"We believe there is growth opportunity in the vehicle service contract market," Ma says.
Universal says its service contract revenue has grown by about 35 percent a year over the past few years. The company did not cite revenue figures.
Universal Underwriters opened in 1922 as a property and casualty insurer. It maintained its brand identity after being acquired by Zurich Financial Services Group in 1982.
The company has 1,800 employees at its headquarters and 28 regional offices in the United States.
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