Brokerage M&A Deals Soar to New Heights

There was a 31% increase in merger and acquisition activity among insurance brokers in 2017, to a record 604 from 2016’s 461, Optis Partners L.L.C. said in a report Tuesday.

The top five individual buyers were Caledonia, Michigan-based Acrisure L.L.C. with 92; Chicago-based Hub International Ltd. with 49; Deerfield, Illinois-based Alera Group with 38; Columbus, Ohio-based BroadStreet Partners with 32; and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. with 30. They were also the top buyers for the nine-month period, according to the report by the Chicago-based investment banking and financial consulting firm.

Lake Mary, Florida-based AssuredPartners Inc., New York-based NFP Corp. and Boca Raton, Florida-based Seaman Holtz Property & Casualty Group all closed more than 20 transactions, according to the report. The top 10 buyers accounted for 56% of all transactions in 2017, up from 52% in 2016.

A new classification of buyers — PE/hybrid — that combined private equity-backed firms and privately owned firms with significant M&A financial support accounted for 382 of the 604 transactions, or 63%, which was up from 56% in 2016, according to the report.

Property/casualty sellers remained the dominant target, with 301 transactions, while employee benefit firm sales increased to 174 in 2017 from 93 in 201, according to the report.

The report said the growth in property/casualty sellers was driven by a large inventory of property/casualty agencies and baby boomer owners who need to exit as they reach retirement age.

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