It was 25 years ago today—May 23, 1986—that Harleysville Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HGIC) “went public.” On that day, Harleysville Group issued an initial public offering at $5.16 per share on a split-adjusted basis that raised net proceeds of $32 million in capital, and set the stage for future growth that has enabled Harleysville Group to become one of the country’s leading super-regional property/casualty insurance companies.

“Being a public company has allowed us to grow our organization to the point that we now operate in 32 states, and we are ranked among the top 70 U.S. property/casualty insurance groups,” explained Michael L. Browne, Harleysville Group’s president and chief executive officer. “We always have been known as a trendsetter—from being one of the first organizations to form our beneficial corporate structure as a downstream holding company, to being an early implementer of predictive modeling among our regional peers. And, we have been recognized as a technology leader, which has been affirmed five years in a row by the InformationWeek 500 and our current ranking at #21 in their annual listing of the most innovative information technology organizations in the U.S. At Harleysville, we attribute our success to the relentless focus of our employees and agents on the basics of our business—underwriting, claims, service and productivity.

“Harleysville Group’s average annualized shareholder return over the past five and 10 years ended April 30, 2011, surpasses—by a healthy margin—an index of our regional peers and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index,” Browne continued. “During our tenure as a public company, we have employed a balanced capital management strategy and a strong balance sheet, enabling us to return more than $385 million of capital to our shareholders since June 2007 via share repurchases and both regular and special dividends. And even more remarkable is the fact that our dividend has increased every year on an annual basis since our IPO. The bottom line is that those who have invested in our company have been rewarded with attractive returns.”

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