Leading Australian insurance group QBE has announced the acquisition of National Farmers Union Property and Casualty Company and its wholly owned subsidiary, United Security Insurance Company.

In a bid to expand its US operations, QBE Insurance Group acquired National Farmers Union (NFU) in a transaction of about $140 million.

Colorado, US-based NFU underwrites personal and small commercial businesses in nine Midwestern and Rocky Mountain states. Although the company primarily writes in cooperation with the National Farmers Union, it is also a leading national writer of rural telecommunications, with gross premiums expected to total $200 million in 2005.

Commenting on the transaction, Tim Kenny, chief executive for QBE’s Americas division, remarked: National Farmers Union Property and Casualty Company is a quality company. Its acquisition will enable us to continue to meet our goals of sensible growth, geographic spread, and product line diversification.

The transaction, pending regulatory approval, will add NFU to QBE’s seven existing companies across the Americas.

Since it’s conception in Australia over 100 years ago, QBE Insurance Group has grown to have operations in 47 countries with over $2 billion of capital writing in excess of $3 billion dollars in premiums.