What: Insurance Australia Group Limited (ASX: IAG) has today announced that it had completed the acquisition of New Zealand’s AMI insurance business at a cost of NZ$380m. This follows receipt from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand of the final regulatory approval required to proceed with the transaction.

So what: AMI writes approximately NZ$360m of annual premium and the acquisition will increase the Group’s New Zealand premium base by nearly 30 per cent, and entrench IAG’s position as New Zealand’s leading general insurer. The transaction is expected to generate at least NZ$30m per annum in synergies within two years, according to management.

This follows IAG’s strategy of growing its market share within the local region, rather than expansion internationally, following the group’s disastrous foray into the UK market in 2007, which resulted in write-downs of $350m in 2008.

Now what: While IAG has a stable chock full of brands, such as NRMA Insurance, CGU and SGIO; and financial performance has been improving, at current prices QBE Insurance Limited (ASX: QBE) appears to be the better pick.

If you are looking for ASX investing ideas, look no further than “The Motley Fool’s Top Stock for 2012.” In this free report, Investment Analyst Dean Morel names his top pick for 2012…and beyond. Click here now to find out the name of this small but growing telecommunications company. But hurry – the report is free for only a limited period of time.

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Motley Fool contributor Mike King owns shares in QBE. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Click here to be enlightened by The Motley Fool’s disclosure policy.

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