March 16, 2005 – Regina, Saskatchewan � March 16, 2005. Harvard Western Ventures Inc. a company jointly owned by Western Financial Group Inc (TSX � WES, WES.DB.A) and Harvard Developments Inc., announced today the formation of a major new insurance broker in Regina, Cooks ISI Insurance. The new company brings two well-known brands together, ISI Agencies (part of Western Financial Group, the largest broker network in Western Canada) and Cooks McCallum Hill Insurance (part of Harvard Developments Inc., A Hill Company), to form the first step in a partnership initiative to invest in a network of strong insurance brokers in other major western Canadian cities.
�Our family has over 90 years of successful history in the insurance business,� said Paul Hill, President and CEO of Harvard Developments Inc., �and this partnership is a logical development towards meeting our growth objectives in this industry. Western Financial Group brings economies of scale and considerable experience in network operations to the table. We are very pleased to be joining force with such a like-minded reputable organization.�
�We have looked for a way to begin to enter larger metro markets without changing or diluting the success we have experienced in building our network in smaller communities in Western Canada�, said Scott Tannas, President and CEO of Western Financial Group. �We believe that a partnership with Harvard Developments Inc. and Paul Hill gives us that opportunity. The strength and reputation of the Hill family and the sophistication of Harvard in business fit well with our strategy.�
Cooks ISI Insurance will continue to operate out of their three current locations in Regina, and one in Kronau, SK. Jeff Child, who has almost 30 years experience in the insurance industry, has been appointed General Manager and will run the combined business operations. Cooks ISI has an expanded number of insurance companies and offers a complete range of expertise and products, from home, auto and farm insurance to complex business accounts.
The common shares of Western Financial Group are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol �WES� and the 9% debenture under the stock symbol �WES.DB.A�.