Hub Drops Out Of Near North Purchase

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By Mark E. Ruquet

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NU Online News Service, Aug. 18, 2:30 p.m.EDT?Hub International Ltd. said on Friday that it hasdropped out of negotiations to purchase Near North NationalGroup.

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Hub had previously announced a proposal to purchase the troubledinsurance firm on July 25.

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"Although we had strong interest in this acquisition, we wereunable to negotiate terms that match our investment discipline andsuit our structural objectives," said Martin P. Hughes, Hub'schairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. "Hubcontinues to pursue other acquisitions and we believe ampleopportunities exist to acquire high quality brokerage firms."

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A Near North spokesperson would only say the firm was "verydisappointed" with Hub's decision.

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Near North has been in trouble ever since the indictment of itsfounder and head, Michael Segal, on charges of allegedly embezzlingmore than $20 million from a premium trust fund account over an11-year period. In May, the firm was indicted on racketeering andmail fraud charges stemming from Mr. Segal's alleged actions.

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Mr. Hughes confirmed rumors during an analyst's conference callin July, which indicated that the firm has lost a number of keyemployees and accounts since the indictments.

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The most recent defection was William C. Bartholomay, who lefthis post as president of Near North to join Willis Group.

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Both Near North and Hub are headquartered in Chicago.

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