HIGH RIVER, AB, January 23, 2006 – Western Financial Group announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with the Sawchuk Group in the ownership of Northcountry Insurance Agencies, an insurance agency operation with offices in Smithers, Vanderhoof, Houston, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Burns Lake and Fraser Lake, British Columbia.
Western Financial Group will own a minority interest in Northcountry, which will continue to operate as it has in the past. Both Western Financial Group and the Sawchuk Group will collaborate on operational and strategic initiatives of mutual benefit.
�We are happy to partner with the Sawchuk Group, who are experienced and successful owner/operators in the insurance business in northern British Columbia�, said Scott Tannas, President and CEO of Western Financial Group. �Like our partnership with Falkins Insurance Group, we expect that we can learn a lot from them in how to successfully operate in the financial services business in these important centers of commerce in British Columbia. As our partnership in Northcountry proves to be a success, we hope to participate in other insurance ventures with the Sawchuk Group.�
Western Financial Group will have an opportunity under the agreement at a future date to further increase their minority interest in Northcountry.
�We are looking forward to working with Western Financial Group to further build Northcountry Insurance Agencies in the region� said Ben Sawchuk, Chairman of the Sawchuk Group. �They provide strong, stable partnership as well as a tremendous amount of experience in operations and growth in community financial service offices in western Canada.�
Sawchuk Group, in addition to their holding in Northcountry, own and operate the largest insurance business in Northeastern B.C., with eight locations stretching from Dawson Creek (Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway), to the Yukon border.
About Western Financial Group
Western Financial Group is one of the leading western-based financial service companies in Western Canada. With offices in towns and small cities across the West, the Company and its affiliates provide more than 250,000 customers with insurance, investment and banking products through WFG Agency Network, Western Life and Bank West.