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Western Financial surges on Desjardins bid

Shares in Western Financial Group rose more than 66 per cent in Friday trading, a day after a friendly takeover bid by Quebec-based Desjardins Financial Group.

The financial group announced Thursday it was making an all-cash offer of $443-million or $4.15 per share for Western, the largest insurance and financial services retailer in Western Canada, in a bid to increase its influence outside of Quebec.

Western's board of directors is recommending that shareholders accept the offer. Shares of Western rose $1.63 to $4.08 in heavy trading.

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"We are delighted that Western Financial recognizes the value of our offer," Desjardin president and CEO Monique Leroux said in a joint statement from the two companies.

"This transaction will allow us to accelerate our business development in Western Canada."

Scott Tannas, the CEO of Western said in the statement that the Desjardin acquisition will serve "the interests of our shareholders, customers, employees and communities."

Western has 121 offices in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Desjardins is the sixth largest co-operative financial group in the world and the largest in Canada.

It boasts assets of over $175-billion and 5.8 million members and clients. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011, the two companies said.

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