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Dec 7, 2011

AmTrust Financial Plans Expansion in Downtown Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Dec. 7, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. (Nasdaq:AFSI), a multinational property and casualty insurer, and its affiliated companies today announced that — as a result of incentives offered by local and State government — it plans to create hundreds of new jobs in Downtown Cleveland over the next three years. The plans are contingent upon various governmental approvals in the coming months. 

Subject to those approvals, AmTrust Financial, based in New York City, and its affiliates would significantly expand their existing Northeast Ohio operations.  AmTrust's expanded operations would be located at 800 Superior Avenue, the office building at the southwest corner of East 9th Street and Superior Avenue. An affiliate of AmTrust — 800 Superior, LLC - bought the largely vacant office tower earlier this year and has committed to spending at least $20 million, mostly for upgrades to the building. The 23-story office building was built in 1969.

"We're eager to build upon our existing investments in Northeast Ohio and excited to be part of the urban renaissance in Downtown Cleveland, which is in the midst of a sweeping and exciting transformation," said Barry Zyskind, Chief Executive Officer of AmTrust. 

The State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland are collectively offering approximately $23 million in incentives to AmTrust to make the company's office expansion here competitive and possible. 

"This is a significant undertaking by AmTrust, and one that would not be possible without the support and creative resources offered by Gov. John Kasich, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson," Zyskind added. "We've been very impressed with the cooperation and encouragement we continue to receive from our public partners." 

AmTrust and its affiliates have operations in 22 states as well as overseas. The company has no affiliation with the former AmTrust Bank or Ohio Savings Bank, both owned by New York Community Bank.   

Ohio Governor John R. Kasich said he looked forward to AmTrust's continued growth.

"When an industry leader like AmTrust adds hundreds of jobs here, it's another indication that Ohio is doing what it takes to get back on track," Kasich said. "I'm thrilled about their decision and look forward to working with them, Mayor Jackson, and County Executive FitzGerald to help AmTrust succeed and grow in Ohio. Creating a jobs-friendly climate is Ohio's number one priority, and job creators across the country are beginning to take notice of the progress we're making."

AmTrust Financial Services began its Northeast Ohio presence in 2001 with a one-person office in Beachwood. In 2005, the company bought an office building in Seven Hills, the current site of an AmTrust operational hub that employs more than 245 people.

Most of the employees at the Seven Hills office would be relocated to Downtown Cleveland. Relocating these employees downtown would likely occur over the next three years. The company may maintain some employees at the Seven Hills office over a longer term. The City of Cleveland and the City of Seven Hills had previously entered into a tax sharing agreement under which one half of the payroll tax from those employees who are relocated to the City of Cleveland will be rebated to the City of Seven Hills for a five year term. 

The new jobs in Downtown Cleveland are expected to result from the continued expansion of AmTrust's existing business and acquisitions. 

The public financial incentives to AmTrust come largely in the form of tax credits and loans. The State of Ohio, for example, is offering $11.4 million in job creation tax credits and $5 million in loans.

All of the incentives are dependent upon AmTrust creating a significant number of jobs over the next three years. Some of those incentives require legislative and/or administrative approvals.

The announcement is yet another significant economic development investment in Downtown Cleveland and contributes to the city's effort to diversify the local economy.

"This is game-changing for the local economy and Downtown Cleveland," Mayor Frank Jackson said. "Talking about jobs is one thing, but actually creating them is the real thing. It's rare anywhere in the country to create hundreds of new good jobs in one fell swoop. AmTrust will reinvigorate and upgrade a major Cleveland office building and will contribute significantly to a new vibrancy that is being created downtown." 

Ed FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County Executive, said such a sizable influx of new, good-paying jobs will provide the county with a substantial, sustained economic shot in the arm.

"In order to make a sizable investment in a community, businesses need to believe in that community's future," FitzGerald said. "AmTrust's decision sends a positive message about the private sector's faith in Northeast Ohio and our local workforce. We are pleased to be participating in this effort, and we will continue to aggressively seek out new opportunities for growth and job creation."     

AmTrust sent a bullish message about Downtown Cleveland when its affiliate bought the largely vacant 800 Superior Avenue office tower. Under the current plans, AmTrust would occupy between 250,000 and 300,000 square feet in the building, leaving a portion of the total 450,000 square feet still available to attract more new jobs downtown. 

About AmTrust Financial Services, Inc.

AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., headquartered in New York City, is a multinational insurance holding company, which, through its insurance carriers, offers specialty property and casualty insurance products, including workers' compensation, commercial automobile and general liability; extended service and warranty coverage. For more information about AmTrust, visit www.amtrustgroup.com, or call AmTrust toll-free at 866.203.3037.

The AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=3280

CONTACT: Nancy Lesic

         nlesic@lesiccamper.com

         216.696.7686

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