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Markel Corp. sells shares in Union First Market Bankshares [Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.]

By Gregory J. Gilligan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Dec. 22--Union First Market Bankshares Corp.'s largest shareholder has sold about 22 percent of its stock to the bank, according to a regulatory filing.

Specialty insurer Markel Corp. sold 750,000 shares Thursday for $11.58 million, or $15.44 a share, according to a stock purchase agreement filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Markel sold an additional 1,532 shares for $15.50 a share on the open market Thursday.

Henrico County-based Markel has sold about 100,000 shares in the past two months on the open market, reducing its ownership in the bank holding company.

Its holdings now hover around 10.1 percent of Richmond-based Union First Market's outstanding shares, down from about 13.2 percent. It now owns 2,624,481 shares, according to the filing.

Union First Market shares closed Friday at $15.65, up 27 cents, or 1.76 percent.

A bank spokesman said the company does not comment on its shareholders.

A representative from Markel didn't respond to an email, and the regulatory filing didn't indicate why it sold the shares.

Union First Market said in the filing that it intends to retire the shares it bought.

Markel initially acquired the stock as a part of its ownership of First Market Bank, which merged with Union Bank and Trust Co. to create Union First Market Bank in early 2010.

The former Ukrop's Super Markets Inc. and the Ukrop family had been the majority owners of First Market Bank, with Markel as a minority owner.

The Ukrop family divided its shares in Union First Market -- and the shares owned by its former grocery store business -- among themselves. Some family members have sold some of those shares in the past two years.

On Wednesday, Markel agreed to buy Bermuda-based Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd. for about $3.13 billion in cash and stock. The deal would expand Markel's insurance business from three to five business lines, adding reinsurance and large-account insurance.

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(c)2012 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.)

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