NU Online News Service, Dec. 30, 2003, 11:48 a.m. EST – Country Insurance & Financial Services, Bloomington, Ill., has agreed to acquire the operations of Cotton States Insurance Group, Atlanta.[@@]

Cotton States is a small holding company that controls a publicly traded life insurer, Cotton States Life Insurance Company, and a policyholder-owned property-casualty insurer, Cotton States Mutual Insurance Company.

Country Insurance plans to acquire Cotton States Life through a merger and to acquire Cotton States Mutual by turning the unit into an affiliate of its own p-c insurance pool, Cotton States says.

The deal agreements call for shareholders of Cotton States Life, which is a public company, to get $20.25 per share of common stock, and for Cotton States Mutual policyholders to end up sharing in the profits and losses of the combined p-c insurance pool.

Country Insurance will take control of the Cotton States Mutual board, but Cotton States Mutual will keep its offices and employees in Atlanta, Cotton States says.

The deals are subject to approval by regulators and Cotton States Life shareholders. Country Insurance and Cotton States hope to complete the transaction by mid-2004.