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St. Paul Cos To Shed One Business

January 4, 2000

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The St. Paul Cos. on Tuesday said it has agreed to sell its nonstandard auto insurance business to the Prudential Insurance Co. of America for $200 million in cash.

The business is operated as St. Paul Specialty Auto, headquartered in Cleveland, and sells policies under the Victoria financial and Titan Auto brands. The sale does not include the commercial lines public entity business written by Titan Indemnity Co.

Nonstandard auto insurance is marketed to people who can’t get regular coverage because they don’t meet certain criteria. In some cases they lack prior or continuous insurance coverage, have bad driving records or own an unusual vehicle.

The St. Paul Cos. expects to record a pretax loss of about $75 million on the sale, which is to close in the second quarter. The sale is subject to regulatory approval.

Proceeds of the sale to Prudential, based in Newark, N.J., may be used to make acquisitions, expand specialty product offerings and repurchase shares, said Douglas Leatherdale, The St. Paul Cos.′ chairman and chief executive.

The St. Paul-based insurer has been focusing its property-liability insurance operations on its business and professional insurance lines, which include $4.2 billion in annual premiums in specialty and general commercial property-liability insurance and $1.1 billion in reinsurance.

The transaction sharpens the company’s focus on its core commercial insurance specialties.

``Although the nonstandard auto insurance business has been successful, it is better suited to a company with a broader presence in the personal lines marketplace, Leatherdale said.

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