When Desjardins Group announced last month it would purchase State Farm Canada’s property and casualty insurance business, some wondered if the mammoth acquisition would trickle down to credit unions and CUSOs in the United States.
“The size and scope of the transaction is impressive, given it is a credit union based group that will manage the ongoing business,” said Rock Carter, CEO of National Consulting & Insurance, an insurance program management firm based in Denver.
He added, “The acquisition of an insurance provider, and its related businesses, truly demonstrate a commitment by the Canada cooperative to layer these services as deliverables to their members. It demonstrates the power of cooperative aggregation of resources that can be leveraged to find large business opportunities, given the right environment.”
Officials with State Farm Canada and State Farm in the U.S. have said the Desjardins acquisition would not impact relations in the U.S.
Carter said there are several issues at play that could prevent such a large transaction here.
“Ironically, due to divergent core systems, third party vendors, and other factors in the U.S., it seems unlikely that such a broad based acquisition could occur,” Carter said. “Today, despite efforts toward limited aggregation efforts, there is no centralized link, or fundamental method, for credit unions to identify such large business opportunities.”
What is more likely to occur are smaller acquisitions, tied to regional or state groups of credit unions or CUSOs with a common link and strategic direction, Carter noted.
In addition to its P&C insurance division, Desjardins said it would State Farm Canada’s Canadian mutual fund, loan and living benefits companies.
The transaction is expected to close in January 2015, subject to approval from regulators and compliance with customary closing conditions, according to the $210 billion cooperative Desjardins in Lévis, Québec in Canada, and State Farm in Bloomington, Ill.
Following the closing, Desjardins will operate the newly acquired State Farm Canada businesses under the State Farm brand for an agreed license period, the companies said.
As part of the agreement, State Farm will make a $450 million investment in non-voting preferred shares into Desjardins’ post-closing property and casualty insurance business, which will include the newly acquired State Farm Canada property and casualty operations.
In addition, Crédit Mutuel, a major European cooperative financial group and long-term partner of Desjardins, will invest $200 million. Desjardins will allocate capital of approximately $700 million to support the growth of its P&C business.