Gallagher Stock Priced at $43.25 to Fund Wesfarmers Deal

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., the insurance broker expanding beyond the U.S. through acquisitions, sold about $821.8 million of shares in an equity offering to help fund its latest deal.

Gallagher sold 19 million shares at $43.25 apiece, below yesterday’s closing price in New York, the Itasca, Illinois-based company said in a statement distributed by PR Newswire. Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. led the offering.

Chief Executive Officer J. Patrick Gallagher reached a deal April 6 to pay A$1.01 billion ($950 million) to buy the insurance-brokerage operation of Perth, Australia-based Wesfarmers Ltd. The purchase will be the largest by Gallagher, which expanded in the U.K. by buying Oval Group and the Giles Group of Companies.

“This builds up New Zealand in a way that we probably couldn’t have accomplished” over the next decade, J. Patrick Gallagher said in an April 7 conference call. “Same is true with Australia.”

Gallagher closed at $43.66 in New York. That compares with $46.84 on April 4, the last trading day before the deal was announced.

Gallagher has climbed 5.1 percent in the past year, compared with the 26 percent gain of New York-based insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos. Brokers help commercial clients purchase coverage from insurers, collecting fees tied to the size of premiums.

Wesfarmers, which started in 1914 as a farmers’ co-operative, is focusing on industries including retail after agreeing in December to sell its underwriting business to Insurance Australia Group Ltd. for A$1.85 billion.

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