The top M&A story of 2020 was a global story that captured more readers in every geographic region than any other. Since it was first announced in March, the proposed Aon-Willis merger remained the leading merger and non-merger insurance story for the entire year. But there were also other proposed and completed transactions that caught the eyes of Insurance Journal’s East region audience. Here are the most popular M&A reports of interest to East readers in 2020:
Global insurance brokers Aon and Willis Towers Watson in March announced they had agreed to merge in an all-stock transaction with an implied combined equity value of approximately $80 billion. Upon completion of the combination, existing Aon shareholders will own approximately 63% and existing Willis Towers Watson shareholders will own approximately 37% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis. According to S&P, Aon intends to combine with Willis in an all-stock transaction valued at about $30 billion, with Willis shares being exchanged to Aon shares. The combined company will be named Aon. Combined, the companies have more than $20 billion in revenue. Aon reported $11 billion in revenue with $2.2 billion net income for 2019 compared to $9 billion revenue and $1.4 billion net income for Willis Towers Watson. Aon will maintain operating headquarters in London, United Kingdom. The parent company will be incorporated in Ireland. The combined firm will have 95,000 employees globally, with what the announcement said will be a “significant presence” in Chicago, New York and Singapore. John Haley will take on the role of executive chairman with a focus on growth and innovation strategy. The combined firm will be led by Greg Case and Aon Chief Financial Officer Christa Davies. The board of directors will comprise proportional members from Aon and Willis Towers Watson’s current directors. In December, Aon confirmed that the European Commission has initiated a review of the proposed merger. Aon said the review is a common next step “for a transaction of this size and complexity” and said it remains on track to close the deal in the first half of 2021.
U.S. insurer Allstate Corp. announced in July its plans to buy National General Holdings Corp. for about $4 billion in cash, scaling up its auto insurance business at a time when the coronavirus was crushing traffic on roads and reducing claims. The deal implied a total deal value of $3.92 billion, Reuters calculations showed. New York-based National General provides personal and commercial automobile, homeowners, umbrella, recreational vehicle, motorcycle, lender-placed, supplemental health and other niche insurance products. Auto insurance represents approximately 60% of premium with a significant presence in the non-standard auto market. “Acquiring National General accelerates Illinois-headquartered Allstate’s strategy to increase market share in personal property-liability and significantly expands our independent agent distribution,” Allstate CEO Tom Wilson said. National General has approximately 42,300 independent agents. Allstate was set to become a top five personal lines carrier in the independent agent distribution channel by combining Encompass and Allstate’s Independent Agent businesses with National General.
Tokio Marine Holdings announced in February that it had completed the acquisition of New York-based Privilege Underwriters Inc. and its subsidiaries, known as Pure Group, which specializes in the U.S. high net worth insurance market. The acquisition price was $3.1 billion (approximately JPY 325.5B). The deal was completed through Tokio Marine’s wholly owned subsidiary HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. Tokio Marine acquired 100% of Privilege Underwriters Inc.’s shares from existing shareholders that include Stone Point (51%), KKR (34%), AXA XL (10%), Pure management and others (5%). For 2018, Pure reported fee income of $229 million, a before-tax profit of $73 million and $963 million premiums under management. Its business profile is comprised of homeowners (57%), auto (23%), inland marine (9%), and other lines for high net worth clients.
In February, healthcare liability insurer ProAssurance Corp. agreed to acquire medical professional liability insurer NORCAL Mutual Insurance Co. following NORCAL’s demutualization in a $450 million transaction. The combination is expected to create the nation’s third largest specialty writer of liability insurance for healthcare professionals and facilities. Pennsylvania-based NORCAL writes in 39 states. It reported $342 million in direct written premium in 2018 and $50 million net income. The company’s underwriting performance and overall profitability have “deteriorated sharply recently driven by significant adverse reserve development,” according to Fitch Ratings, which placed its “A” ratings for ProAssurance on negative watch following the deal announcement. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, ProAssurance serves more than 54,000 healthcare providers in 49 states. The company had annualized medical professional liability gross written premium of approximately $475 million.
In December, The Travelers Companies agreed to acquire InsuraMatch, a national digital independent insurance agency, from the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies. Encharter Insurance, Plymouth Rock’s Massachusetts-based brokerage, will not be included in the transaction. Founded in 2014 as part of Boston-based insurer Plymouth Rock, InsuraMatch has operated as an autonomous business unit. In 2019, InsuraMatch produced nearly $32 million in premiums. Travelers said InsuraMatch will continue to operate independently and will manage all of its own carrier partnerships.
NFP, an insurance broker and consultant, has acquired Rose & Kiernan Inc. in a transaction that closed on August 1. Rose & Kiernan, based in Albany, N.Y., is a multidisciplinary insurance broker for property/casualty, surety and employee benefits in New York state and New England. The firm was named as one of Insurance Journal’s Top 100 Independent Agencies in August 2019.
In March, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. acquired Melville, N.Y.-based CMS. Founded in 1996, CMS is a wholesale insurance broker working with agents across the U.S. The team specializes in placing coverages for construction, importing, wholesaling/distributing, manufacturing and real estate businesses, as well as personal lines.
Global insurance broker Hub International Ltd. announced in May that its affiliate, Hub International Northeast Limited, acquired the assets of The B&G Group Inc. Located in Plainview, N.Y., The B&G Group provides commercial insurance to various industries, including real estate, business services and construction. Additionally, it is a personal insurance broker. With The B&G Group, Hub adds more than 100 employees to its Northeast regional presence, bringing the total number of employees in Long Island to 350. Evan Bower, president of The B&G Group, will join Hub Northeast and report to Doug Schenendorf, president of Hub’s Long Island division.
Amynta Group, a provider of property/casualty and warranty protection products and services, has acquired the surety operations of Aspen Insurance. The business will now operate as Amynta Surety Solutions. As part of the transaction, Amynta said it will partner with Crum & Forster to provide the underwriting capacity for the business and assume Aspen’s in-force surety portfolio. Amynta Surety Solutions will be the exclusive writer of large commercial surety bonds for Crum & Forster, according to the announcement. Amynta Surety Solutions will be headquartered in Glastonbury, Conn., and will continue under the leadership of Michael Toppi, CEO of Amynta Surety Solutions.
In September, California-based Hippo, an insurtech managing general agent focused on home insurance, completed its acquisition of Spinnaker Insurance Co. with an expansion into additional states next on its plate. The deal follows a multi-year partnership between the companies. Spinnaker is a New Jersey-based national property/casualty insurer with a license to do business in all 50 states. Hippo noted that Spinnaker has been its largest carrier platform partner since 2017. With Spinnaker and its other carrier partners, Hippo provides home insurance in more than 31 states.
Paragon Insurance Holdings, a national managing general agency, said in May that it had closed on its purchase of Trident Public Risk Solutions from Bermuda-based Argo Group. Trident provides insurance and risk management for public sector entities such as counties, municipalities, schools, special districts and governmental inter-local pools. It operates through a distribution network of national brokerages and local agencies. It has offices in San Antonio, Texas and Springfield, Massachusetts. Paragon is headquartered in Avon, Connecticut, and writes more than 20 insurance programs including ones for arborists, ski facilities, pest control, timber, precision manufacturing and wineries.
Norman-Spencer Agency, a Dayton, Ohio-based program administrator and wholesale brokerage, in May acquired the business assets of Intercorp Inc. and BNK Insurance Services. Intercorp is based in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and BNK Insurance Services is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Intercorp manages national insurance programs and operates as a wholesale broker in the professional and environmental liability fields. Led by owner Elaine Matternas, the firm will continue to manage professional liability insurance programs for appraisal firms and appraisal management companies as a division of Norman-Spencer. BNK Insurance Services is a managing general agency that specializes in professional liability insurance for niche industries, including real estate agents, home inspectors and mortgage brokers. Norman-Spencer said the deal is an effort to continue to grow and strengthen its real estate professional programs.
Cleveland-based CBIZ Inc., a provider of financial, insurance and advisory services, acquired substantially all of the assets of independent insurance agency Alliance Insurance Services Inc. of Washington, D.C. in February. AIS small and midsized clients include charter schools, real estate, construction and technology in the D.C. metro area. AIS has nine employees and approximately $1.6 million in annual revenue.
Specialty insurer Hudson Insurance Group in November agreed to acquire the Allegheny Group Inc. (AGI) and its subsidiaries from its private shareholders. By acquiring Pennsylvania-based AGI, Hudson will own Allegheny Surety Co., a Pennsylvania insurance company, and Allegheny Surety Agency, the affiliated managing agency. Allegheny Surety serves independent agents in the mid-Atlantic region. Headquartered in New York City with offices throughout the U.S. and in Vancouver, Canada, Hudson underwrites specialty primary and excess insurance on both an admitted and non-admitted basis. Hudson is the U.S. insurance division of Odyssey Group Holdings, which is owned by Fairfax Financial Holdings.
In May, insurance broker NFP announced it had acquired LFG Inc., which does business as Team Scotti. Team Scotti, based in Pittsburgh, Penn., and founded in 1987, is a national insurance broker offering insurance and employee benefit programs to Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and their affiliates. The firm plays a risk management role for MLB, including, securing disability insurance for key players. NFP and its subsidiaries aim to meet the risk management needs of North American professional sports leagues including the NBA, NFL, NHL, WNBA and the ATP Tour, as well as other professional and amateur sports leagues, teams, organizations, athletes and events. The Team Scotti acquisition adds retail brokerage expertise with respect to MLB and MiLB.
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in January reported it had acquired Huntington, N.Y.-based Walsdorf Agency Inc. Founded in 1926, Walsdorf Agency is a third generation, family owned commercial and personal lines insurance agency with real estate niche expertise. David L. Walsdorf, Louis J. Walsdorf and their associates have relocated to Gallagher’s Jericho, N.Y., office under the direction of Patrick Kennedy, head of Gallagher’s Northeast region retail brokerage operations.
In December, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. acquired Queensbury, N.Y.-based Cool Insuring Agency Inc. Founded in 1857, Cool Insuring Agency provides commercial, personal, life and health insurance and consulting services to clients across the Northeastern U.S. from offices in Queensbury and Latham. Agency President Anthony Mashuta and Ira Neifeld, senior vice president, and their associates will continue to operate from their current locations.
AHT Insurance acquired Mason & Mason Insurance in July. Mason’s offices in Whitman, Mass., located near Boston, and North Conway, N.H., will become AHT’s eighth and ninth locations nationally. Mason is a provider of risk management and insurance brokerage service for venture capital, technology and life science firms. The company is also a provider of insurance to custom home builders and remodelers in Massachusetts and the managing agent for Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts’ sponsored insurance program. AHT and Mason are two of the founding agencies of TechAssure, a nonprofit association dedicated to advancing corporate insurance and risk management for technology, life science and venture capital related risks.
Rhode Island independent agency Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage in July acquired Newport Insurance Agency in Middletown, R.I., an independent agency with 13 associates on staff serving commercial and personal lines clients throughout southern New England. Newport Insurance, now a division of Starkweather & Shepley, will continue to service clients from its Middletown location.
Paragon Insurance Holdings, a national managing general agency, said in May that it had closed on its purchase of Trident Public Risk Solutions from Bermuda-based Argo Group. Trident provides insurance and risk management for public sector entities such as counties, municipalities, schools, special districts and governmental inter-local pools. It operates through a distribution network of national brokerages and local agencies. It has offices in San Antonio, Texas and Springfield, Massachusetts. Paragon is headquartered in Avon, Connecticut, and writes more than 20 insurance programs including ones for arborists, ski facilities, pest control, timber, precision manufacturing and wineries. Paragon said the transaction positions it as one of the largest providers of commercial insurance coverage for public entities in the U.S.