Monday, October 29, 2007

Symetra Financial IPO - White Mountains Insurance

The long awaited initial public offering of Symetra Financial Corp. has finally arrived. An S-1 filed by the company this morning has put a price range of $18-20 per share on the 39.5 million shares being offered in the IPO. Symetra was created in 2004 by an investment group led by Berkshire Hathaway and White Mountains Insurance. Both entities own 26,887,872 shares of Symetra. WTM will be selling from 9,870,306 to 11,350,852 shares.

If we assume a pricing of $19 per share then WTM will receive from $187 to $215 million in the IPO. Its remaining stake in Symetra Financial, which will trade under the symbol SYA, will be worth $295 to $323 million.

Book value per diluted share for Symetra as of 9/30/2007 is $15.10, so the IPO is being priced at 1.25 times book value assuming a final price of $19 per share. In my blog post from June I used 1.5 times book value so the value comes in a little less than I thought.

This was still a good deal for White Mountains Insurance as the investment group purchased these assets from Safeco at less than book value in 2004, and they have also withdrawn capital since the original purchase. Here is the lead paragraph from the WTM press release in 2004:

"HAMILTON, Bermuda, Mar 15, 2004 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd. (NYSE: WTM) announced today that it and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. are leading an investor group that will acquire the life and investments business of Safeco Corporation for $1.35 billion, subject to adjustment based on June 30, 2004 adjusted statutory book value.

Safeco Life and Investments, with headquarters in Redmond, Washington, focuses mainly on group insurance, individual life insurance, structured settlements, retirement services and mutual funds. As of December 31, 2003, the business had approximately $22.5 billion of total assets and $2.57 billion in GAAP book value ($1.74 billion excluding FAS 115). President Randy Talbot and his management team will continue to run the business following the acquisition."

The S-1 is here at the Edgar web site.

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