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22 February 2017

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National Lloyds sale pulled

Dan Ascher and David Bull 17 February 2017

The proposed sale of Texas-based homeowners' specialist National Lloyds has been scrapped after owner Hilltop Holdings was unable to secure the price it was looking for, The Insurance Insider understands.

In October, this publication revealed that the Dallas-based, New York-listed financial services company had instructed investment bank Sandler O'Neill to handle the sale of the insurance business.

But now it is understood that the process has been halted after Hilltop could not obtain the price or sale terms it was looking for from potential buyers.

One source indicated that at least two interested parties from National Lloyds' home state had looked at the business before the sale was pulled.

It is believed that the sale process was terminated shortly before Christmas during a successful quarter for the business.

Hilltop reported pre-tax profits from its insurance operations of $13.3mn in the final quarter of last year, almost double the $7mn the segment recorded for the final three months of 2015.

The insurance business improved dramatically over the course of last year and reported a 69.8 percent combined ratio for the final quarter, a marked reduction from the 87 percent it reported for the same period of the previous year.

For all of 2016, Hilltop's insurance division reported profits of $21.4mn. The combined ratio for the year was 90.9 percent, a 4 percentage point improvement on 2015.

National Lloyds predominantly writes personal fire and extended coverage for affordable properties such as mobile homes.

But in recent years the carrier has broadened its scope to include commercial property and liability risks. It has aimed to focus on the types of businesses likely to be found on Main Street in towns across Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and Montana, where the bulk of its book is written.

The carrier, which is one of the 25 largest in Texas, distributes its cover through more than 4,200 independent agents and takes in premiums of more than $182mn, according to its website - although AM Best figures show $141mn of gross premiums written in 2015.

It is licensed to sell coverage in more than 30 states and has over 160 employees.

Hilltop acquired the business in 2007.

A Hilltop representative did not respond to a request for comment.

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