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PRIVATE EQUITY

Buyout giant targets O.C. firm

Alliant Insurance takes up a $1.1-billion offer from Blackstone Group.

June 04, 2007|Kathy M. Kristof | Times Staff Writer

A Newport Beach-based commercial insurance brokerage is being sold to Blackstone Group for $1.1 billion in cash and stock, the companies announced Sunday. The deal is the latest in the voracious private equity firm's series of big acquisitions.

Alliant Insurance Services, which is now owned by private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer of New York, will maintain its current management, employees and headquarters, spokesman Mike Simmons said.

Alliant boasts more than 20,000 commercial insurance clients nationwide. "It is business as usual," he said.

However, the purchase by Blackstone -- a New York-based behemoth with about $191 billion in assets -- will provide Alliant with additional resources to grow, the companies said. The deal is expected to be completed within 75 days.

"This is an exceptional opportunity for our company, our clients and our employees," said Tom Corbett, chief executive of Alliant. "Blackstone's financial resources and commitment to work strategically with management teams will enable our firm to continue to expand."

The deal comes on the heels of Alliant's decision to buy the U.S. operations of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group of London for $100 million late last year.

Blackstone has been gobbling up firms at a rapid clip in recent months, often with partners.

In November, the company agreed to buy Chicago-based Equity Office Properties Trust for $36 billion in cash and the assumption of debt. In December, it was part of a group that snapped up Biomet Inc. of Warsaw, Ind., for $10.9 billion.

In May, it agreed to buy Alliance Data, a Dallas-based marketing firm, for $7.8 billion.

Chinh Chu, a senior managing director at Blackstone, said the company considered Alliant an attractive target because of its "superior growth prospects and world-class management."

kathy.kristof@latimes.com

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