High River, Alberta � October 31, 2006 (TSX � WES) Western Financial Group (�the Company�) announced today that it has acquired a 25% initial interest in Hayhurst Elias Dudek Inc. (�HED�), the largest independent insurance broker/administrator in Manitoba.
HED is one of the largest independently owned insurance brokers in Canada, with approximately 190 employees nationwide. HED�s head office and the majority of employees are located in Winnipeg, with additional offices in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Winnipeg is also home to HED�s Campus Insurance Centre at the University of Manitoba. The company offers flexible, innovative and knowledgeable insurance solutions through the application of risk management techniques and the proper assessment of clients’ insurance needs; as well, HED provides Alternative Risk Transfer solutions, such as managed, insurer-protected self-insurance programs for larger buying groups and associations.
HED operates three core product segments: i) Commercial Property & Casualty, ii) Life and Health, and iii) Pet Health Insurance through its subsidiary SecuriCan General Insurance Company, the leading provider of pet insurance in Canada, sold under the Petplan brand (www.petplan.com).
HED has long specialized in property, casualty, life, health and dental insurance programs primarily for multi-employer or multi-firm buying groups, school boards, municipalities and trade associations. As a major part of HED�s focus, a broad array of administration services that are typically offered only by policy underwriters are provided to these groups.
�We see enormous collaborative opportunities within our two operations, particularly in commercial insurance programs, group life and health, and support for the unique products of SecuriCan General Insurance,� said Scott Tannas, President and CEO of Western Financial Group.
�HED also sees synergies between our organizations, similar operating philosophies and the opportunities for both organizations to mutually benefit through the strengths and resources each brings to this partnership.� noted Art Elias, President and CEO of Hayhurst Elias Dudek Inc.
As the partnership develops, it is anticipated that Western Financial Group�s ownership position in HED will increase.
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 provides more than 250,000 customers with insurance, investment and banking products through WFG Agency Network, Western Life and Bank West.www.westernfinancialgroup.net
The Common Shares of Western Financial Group are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol �WES�.