Western United Life Assurance Co., the former insurance affiliate of once prominent and now bankrupt Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co., of Spokane, says it plans to move from Spokane Valley to smaller quarters in the Big Easy Concert House building downtown.
Western United plans to move in late August to a roughly 20,000-square-foot space in the Big Easy building, at 919 W. Sprague, from a 45,000-square-foot leased space in a building it shares with Key Tronic Corp., at 4424 N. Sullivan, says Bill Ripple, spokesman for Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
The Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner took over administrative supervision of Western United in late 2003 and assumed court-ordered control of the company as receiver in 2004 to protect policyholders and company assets in the wake of Metropolitan Mortgages collapse.
Western Uniteds lease of its current space expires at the end of August, and a move to the Big Easy building made financial sense because it owns that building, Ripple says.
Also, the insurance company doesnt need as much office space as it currently occupies. Three years ago, the company had 185 employees, while now it employs 79 people, he says.
In August of 2004, Western United moved to Spokane Valley from a leased space in the former Metropolitan Financial Center downtown because it was required by law to be physically separate and to operate independently from its parent company.
That downtown tower now is called the Wells Fargo Center. Metropolitan Mortgage and a sister company, Summit Securities Inc., declared bankruptcy in early 2004.
Since then, Metropolitan has been embroiled in a series of accounting scandals and lawsuits.
Western United, which sells a variety of annuities, once was considered Metropolitan Mortgages most valuable asset, with equity of nearly $120 million before it went into receivership, according to financial records that now are suspect, Ripple says.
According to the most recent available figures, the company now has capital and surplus of $32.9 million, he says. Kreidler has tried unsuccessfully to sell the company for the past two years, and is continuing those efforts.
Contact Emily Brandler at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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