About five years ago, many thought forming a national broker from scratch was impossible. Recent events have certainly proved that not only is it possible, but huge successes can emanate when these transactions are well thought out and executed.
MarshBerry was the investment banking firm that helped form, and assist the management groups in bringing together, two leading insurance brokerages – Patriot Growth Insurance Services (Patriot) and Alera Group, Inc. (Alera). During this time frame, these two darling start-ups have aggressively grown to become two of the Top 35 largest brokers of U.S. business as reported by Business Insurance. Recently, both announced recapitalization agreements allowing them to expand their platforms with additions of new agency and broker partnerships and markets.
MarshBerry, who has completed the three most well recognized transactions of this nature in the industry, expects the growth trajectory for these brokerages to continue1. Here’s a look into their recent activity:
- Patriot has seen impressive growth since forming on January 1, 2019, from the merger of 17 independent insurance firms and the TRUE network of advisors. Working in conjunction with Matt Gardner, Founder and CEO of Patriot, MarshBerry acted as the investment banking firm that sourced and valued the participating firms, brokered the individual transactions, and assisted in vetting financing sources.
- The company has differentiated itself in a highly competitive marketplace through its strategy of partnering with high-growth, well-run agencies, and an unwavering commitment to enhancing collaboration across the Patriot network.
- Since 2019, Patriot has completed approximately 64 agency partnerships and achieved above-market organic growth while serving over 100,000 clients across 18 states. Patriot joined the ranks of Business Insurance’s top 40 largest U.S. insurance brokerages in 2020 with over $124 million in revenue – just one year after forming.
- September 21: Patriot announced a recapitalization with private investment firm GI Partners, partnering with Gardner. Patriot management and Summit Partners, which invested in Patriot in 2019, are keeping significant minority ownership positions in Patriot.
- MarshBerry and Morgan Stanley & Co LLC served as financial advisors to Patriot.
- The transaction is expected to close in October 2021.
- Since forming in December 2016 from a merger of 24 independent insurance and financial services firms, backed by Genstar Capital (Genstar), Alera has experienced a fast growth trajectory.
- At the time of the multi-firm transaction in 2016, where MarshBerry acted as the exclusive investment banking firm for the historic merger, Alera had $158 million in annual revenue. Today, Alera is the 17th largest insurance brokerage company in the U.S.
- Alera has continued its brisk pace of approximately 132 acquisitions and roll-ups since its inception at the end of 2016. Acquisitions continue to be driven by many sell side factors including firms looking to partner with a larger entity that provides resources otherwise not available.
- September 8: Alera announced a recapitalization event in which their current financial sponsor, Genstar, will sell from one investment fund into a second fund run by Genstar. Sitting alongside Genstar will be a co-investment from Flexpoint Ford. While the concept of a fund-to-fund transaction is not foreign to the industry, it is a very strong bullish indicator by Alera’s capital partners for future value accretion.
- The transaction is expected to close in 2021.
The success experienced since the formation of each of these firms, as well as the continued investment from private equity partners, showcases their growth trajectory in an aggressive marketplace. MarshBerry expects both Alera and Patriot to continue to move the needle from both a prominence and valuation perspective as they continue to grow in value and their national footprints. Their success highlights, once again, that there are many ways to find success in the insurance distribution marketplace.
If you have questions about Today’s ViewPoint or would like to learn more about how firms are looking differently at M&A activity, please email or call Phil Trem, President – Financial Advisory, at 440.392.6547.
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1MarshBerry also acted as the investment banking and consulting firm to four of Georgia’s premier insurance brokers as they combined to form Oakbridge Insurance Agency. Closed 12/31/20, the partnering of these firms formed what is now one of the largest privately-owned insurance, surety, risk management and employee benefits firms in the Southeast. It also cemented their place in the Top 100 agencies as ranked by Business Insurance.
MarshBerry continues to be the #1 sell side advisor in the industry (as ranked by S&P Global). If you’re considering selling your firm, we are the best choice to help you through the complicated process. If you don’t hire MarshBerry, hire a reputable advisor that can help you navigate one of the most important business decisions you will ever make. You will be much better off having an advisor in your corner that knows the industry than trying to do this on your own.
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