White Mountains unit plans offering

White Mountains Insurance Group subsidiary White Mountain Re plans to sell 250,000 preference shares at $1,000 apiece to build up its cash cushion, the company announced Wednesday.

The offering, which will be exempt from securities regulations, would go to special institutional buyers, in order to further capitalize its reinsurance subsidiaries and for “general corporate purpose.”

White Mountain – headquartered in Bermuda with a U.S. headquarters in Hanover — took a $200 million hit back in 2005 in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and last summer lost some $45 million after European wind storms in the first quarter.

Still, the company has $8.1 billion in total assets and $2 billion in equity. It recently sold off a portion of its biggest subsidiary – One Beacon – while still retaining control of it to raise capital.

In April it folded Galileo, a weather risk management business, into its business. Galileo’s balance sheet includes $65 million in assets, and shareholders equity of $27 million. — BOB SANDERS

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