HOUSTON, Feb. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE: STC) ("Stewart"), a leading provider of real estate services, including global residential and commercial title insurance, escrow and settlement services, lender services, underwriting, specialty insurance and other solutions that facilitate successful real estate transactions, today announced value creation strategies, including the nomination of two new independent directors, a cost savings initiative and a share repurchase program.
The cost savings initiative extends Stewart's ongoing streamlining efforts and is expected to generate annual run rate pre-tax savings of $25 million by year end 2015.
The Stewart Board has also reviewed its capital allocation plans for 2014 and 2015, and expects to return $70 million to stockholders through a share repurchase program. It is currently expected that the share repurchase activity will begin in the second half of 2014, with the majority expected to occur throughout 2015. Under the share repurchase program, Stewart has the ability to purchase shares of its outstanding common stock through open market and in privately negotiated transactions at prices deemed appropriate by management. The timing, form and amount of share repurchases under the program will depend on a variety of factors, including market conditions, share price, the Company's capital and liquidity position relative to internal and rating agency targets, legal requirements, including approval of release of cash from the regulated underwriter by the Company's insurance regulators, corporate considerations, and other factors.
Stewart further announced it will begin hosting earnings conference calls commencing with the first quarter earnings call of 2014.Matthew W. Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Stewart, said, "As evidenced by the increase in our stock price over the last two years, enhancing stockholder value has been a top priority for the Stewart Board. The strategies announced today will drive incremental value by further streamlining our cost profile and returning capital to our stockholders. I look forward to working closely with the Board and management team as we continue to execute our strategies for promoting sustainable growth and enhanced value." Stewart also announced today that it has agreed to nominate two new independent directors to the Stewart Board at the Company's 2014 Annual Meeting: Glenn C. Christenson, managing director of Velstand Investments, LLC, and Arnaud Ajdler, managing partner of Engine Capital LP. Dr. Edward Douglas Hodo, Chairman of the Stewart Board of Directors, said, "We look forward to welcoming Glenn and Arnaud to our Board at the Annual Meeting. Both of these individuals are highly qualified and will bring to Stewart's Board extensive financial experience and unique perspectives on our Company and industry." "I am honored to be nominated to join the Stewart Board of Directors," said Mr. Christenson. "I look forward to working collaboratively as a director, and believe that together, we can advance the goal of generating superior returns for all stockholders." Mr. Ajdler said, "We invested in Stewart because it is a strong company that presents tremendous opportunities for value creation. Like Glenn, I look forward to working with the Board and management team to unlock the value inherent in this great company."
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