Assured Guaranty Ltd. last week set a shareholders' meeting date of March 16 to vote on its proposed acquisition of Financial Security Assurance Holdings Ltd.

The company will ask shareholders to approve the issuance of shares to Dexia Holdings Inc., FSA's current owner. The deal, which will combine last year's two most active bond insurers, was announced in November as Dexia SA looked to reduce its exposure to the business as part of a restructuring.

Agreements for the Belgian and French governments to provide guarantees on FSA's troubled financial products unit are in the stage of "finalization," Dexia said in a separate release. The acquisition excludes that unit, and Assured Guaranty will not be responsible for any risks or losses there.

The deal also awaits approval from the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. It received approval from U.S. antitrust authorities in mid-January.

Assured said at the time of the deal it anticipates that bond insurers Assured Guaranty Corp. and Financial Security Assurance Inc. will keep their insurance licenses and continue to write new business. FSA said last year it would stop backing structured finance credits to focus on public finance.

Both companies largely avoided backing the collateralized debt obligations of asset-backed-securities that crushed other insurers. But FSA racked up losses due to exposure to the U.S. housing market through its financial products subsidiary.

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