Acquisition would increase membership by more than 27 percent

NAPA -- The Doctors Company, a Napa-based insurer of physicians, today said it signed a deal to acquire FPIC Insurance Group, a major publicly traded medical liability insurance provider in the Southeast, for about $362 million.

The acquisition of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based insurer for physicians, dentists and other health care providers equates to $42 a share in cash, representing about a 31 percent per share premium, according to The Doctors Company.

The deal was signed Monday and is expected to close by the end of this year if regulators and shareholders concur.

With the merger, The Doctors Company will take on an additional 18,000 policy holders, growing its membership from 55,000 to more than 70,000 members nationwide.

"We look forward to welcoming FPIC's 18,000 insureds to The Doctors Company," said Richard Anderson, chairman and chief executive officer. "Together, we will have increased financial strength and be in an even better position to fulfill our relentless commitment to advance, protect and reward the practice of good medicine."

FPIC's board of directors unanimously approved the transaction and is recommending its shareholders approve the merger.

"We are pleased to have found a strategic, well-respected partner in The Doctors Company," said John Byers, president and CEO of FPIC. "We believe this transaction will benefit our policyholders while rewarding our shareholders for their investment in FPIC."

FPIC and its subsidiary companies are the largest provider of medical professional liability insurance in Florida, the fourth largest provider in Texas and a top five provider in Georgia and Kansas, according to The Doctors Company. All told, FPIC writes policies for liability insurance in 14 states and is licensed in 32 states.

The Doctors Company, founded in 1976, says it is the largest insurer of physicians and surgical liability in the nation. It has $4 billion in assets.

The news boosted FPIC's share price at the end of trading Tuesday to $41.34, an increase of $9.24 or nearly 29 percent from Monday.

Law firm Farella Braun + Martel advised The Doctors Company in the deal.