Symetra Financial Sets IPO Terms, Buffett To Keep Shares

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Life insurance company Symetra Financial Corp set the terms of its initial public offering on Wednesday, lowering the overall value of the deal from its October filing and signaling that it is likely to price soon.

The company, which sells group health, retirement and life insurance, and employee benefits, said that the entire offering could net as much as $434.7 million and it expects it’s share of the proceeds to be about $208.3 million.

In October, the company had filed to raise as much as $575 million, but did not provide details of the offering.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N), which owns 26.3 percent of the company, is keeping all of its shares. A fund affiliated with investor J.C. Flowers, which currently owns 2.3 percent of the company, is selling all of its shares.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway also kept all of its shares in the insurance company Verisk Analytics Inc’s (VRSK.O) October IPO. The company now trades about 38 percent above its IPO price.

Bellevue, Washington-based Symetra said in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission it expects its IPO to consist of 27 million shares for between $12 and $14 each. At the mid-point of that range, it would raise $351 million.

Symetra reported revenue of $1.3 billion in the nine months that ended Sept. 30, up from $1.1 billion in the year-ago period. The company reported net income of $96.2 million, up from $27 million.

It said its adjusted book value as of Sept 30 was about $1.45 billion and it had total assets of $22.2 billion.

Symetra said in a regulatory filing that its board of directors has not yet determined how it will use proceeds from the offering, but said it would likely be for general corporate purposes, including contributions of capital to its insurance and other subsidiaries.

The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SYA.”

Joint book-runners for the offering are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs & Co and Barclays Capital. They have the option to purchase an additional 4.05 million shares.

This is the second time Symetra has tried to go public. The company filed for an IPO in 2007, but withdrew in 2008 due to poor market conditions. (Reporting by Clare Baldwin and Lilla Zuill; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Steve Orlofsky and Bernard Orr)