Michigan-based First Mercury Financial has entered into a definitive agreement whereby its principal insurance subsidiary, First Mercury Insurance, will acquire Valiant Insurance Group, a subsidiary of Ariel Holdings, for approximately $55m.

According to the First Mercury Financial, the components of Valiant’s existing underwriting platform to be retained by it include primary and excess casualty, professional and management liability and marine classes of business in addition to Valiant’s underwriting teams related to these businesses.

The company, however, will discontinue the classes of Valiant business that are not consistent with First Mercury’s specialty underwriting focus.

First Mercury, which intends to retain approximately 33% of Valiant’s anticipated gross written premiums, expects that Valiant will write approximately $50 to $60m of gross written premiums, within 12 months following the closure of the transaction.

Richard Smith, chairman, president and CEO of First Mercury, said: Valiant provides us with an attractive opportunity to gain admitted licensing, expand our resources in professional and management liability and selected specialty casualty underwriting classes, while adding marine underwriting capabilities to take advantage of improving market conditions in this line.

We are pleased to have Gary Dubois, president and CEO of Valiant, and Scott Bayer, senior vice president of Valiant, join First Mercury. Gary and Scott bring significant experience and capabilities in their leadership roles leading Valiant’s experienced and well regarded underwriting teams and will become an integral part of First Mercury.

However, the transaction is subject to approval and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2010.