Seattle-based workers' compensation insurer SeaBright Insurance Holdings debuted yesterday.

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Investors flocked to SeaBright Insurance Holdings yesterday, the first day of public trading for the Seattle-based workers’ compensation insurer.

Its initial public offering of shares was priced Thursday at $10.50 each. The stock rose $1.55, or 14.8 percent, yesterday to close at $12.05.

John Pasqualetto, SeaBright’s chief executive, said the company remains in a quiet period, but offered that he was “pleased with the way it went.”

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SeaBright was one of three companies whose stocks debuted yesterday, marking the first new entrants to the markets in 2005.

The industrial chemical firm Celanese in Dallas was unchanged at $16 a share in regular trading. The Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company ViaCell saw a 24 percent gain during the day to close at $8.68.

SeaBright, formerly Eagle Pacific Insurance, writes policies for maritime workers, the construction industry in California and areas that the company says are underserved, including Alaska, California and Hawaii.

The IPO sold 7.5 million shares in an offering managed by Friedman Billings Ramsey, Piper Jaffray and Cochran Caronia. Those underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to 1,125,000 more shares to cover additional demand.

SeaBright will see less than the $78.75 million brought in by the IPO because of underwriters’ discounts, fees and expenses associated with the offering.

The company plans to use the money to do more business in its main markets and to expand geographically.

Ira Zuckerman, an insurance analyst at Stanford Financial, said the workers’ compensation niche is a “hot area” in California right now because of rate increases in recent years and legislative changes that “should have the impact of reducing claim costs significantly.”

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com