A brand-new platform business that’s nationally ranked enters the market with a mind to grow strategically and highlights a potential systematic pattern being driven by MarshBerry that could make a lasting impact on the consolidation of the insurance industry.
Establishing a brand-new, thoughtfully integrated platform of firms with shared values and growth-focus takes deep resources and Merger & Acquisition (M&A) knowledge and relationships. MarshBerry brought the human capital, industry experience and deal expertise to the table so Patriot Growth Insurance Services, LLC (“Patriot”) relaunch with a meaningful platform on January 1, 2019, as a world-class brokerage of 17 entities and the TRUE Network Advisors (“TRUE”), collectively referred to as the “Founders”, under the direction of 30-year insurance distribution veteran, Chief Executive Officer, Matt Gardner.
The entities come from several independent firms and TRUE, which separately approached MarshBerry over the last two years after MarshBerry closed the landmark Alera Group, Inc. (“Alera”) deal which saw 24 firms, primarily from Benefit Advisors Network, join forces to form a single entity. In both instances, MarshBerry was the investment banking firm that sourced and valued the participating firms, brokered the individual transactions and helped arrange financing sources that brought the firms together – on one closing day.
Patriot is a leading-edge transaction that now reflects a trend when it comes to the consolidation of insurance agents on a scale that exceeds the traditional one buyer/seller and/or merger combinations that almost exclusively comprise M&A activity in the insurance distribution space. By forming a transaction in this nature, it provides firms the autonomy to build what Patriot will become versus joining an existing culture by joining an established consolidator. With 21 offices in 7 states, Patriot is a top-60 U.S. privately held insurance agency that also ranks in the top-20 amongst privately held employee benefits agencies1.
The launch of Patriot is the second deal of this structure where MarshBerry provided guidance for entities to join a strategic platform with a mind to integrate with other firms that share its desire to leverage resources while maintaining local autonomy, accelerate growth, and provide unique capabilities and solutions to customers.
MarshBerry believes the creation of Patriot, following Alera Group, Inc., could significantly change the way buyers in the marketplace come into existence. Specifically, it provides private equity and other investors the opportunity to invest in a sizeable platform, while providing selling firms the opportunity to benefit from deal terms that are traditionally only available to the largest and highest quality firms in the marketplace.
Blazing a Different Deal Trail—A Brand-New Platform
Gardner’s desire was to develop a ground-floor opportunity for agencies to impact culture and operations in a national agency vs. simply being absorbed. So, Patriot was started from scratch—and intense vetting and selection of acquisition partners followed.
To accomplish a transaction such as this, trusted industry relationships are critical. MarshBerry successfully aligned Gardner and Summit Partners with the 18 founding firms that had a commitment to Patriot’s vision. Bringing together 18 like-minded entities—called for deep M&A expertise, dedication to the process, and a wide scope of specialists. MarshBerry was instrumental in orchestrating these resources while advising the Founders to a successful close. From a selling perspective, the Founders were able to participate in a:
• Premium Valuation
• Favorable Tax Treatment on Rollover Equity*
• Other Benefits from Leveraging the Transaction with Debt
Patriot has a unique approach to M&A in the marketplace. It engages in a thoughtful vetting process to select partners that want to collaborate and share a similar culture and growth-driven values. While Patriot is actively participating in M&A transactions, it is committed to consistent, organic growth. The organization recognizes what business practices are essential for sustainability and continued success and acknowledges that organic growth is a differentiator in the marketplace.
Of the initial 18 entities that form Patriot, nearly 25% are female-owned businesses, and the partners are predominantly employee benefits firms targeting a broad set of industry sub-sectors and a variety of employer group sizes. Patriot has a robust pipeline of prospective agency partners to fuel future inorganic growth.
Overall, the formation of Patriot speaks to a few potential game-changers in the M&A market. For one, it underscores private equity’s continued interest in investing in insurance firms. Backing Patriot is a testament to the strategic vision of a platform group of entities. Secondly, the Patriot deal following Alera indicates to us that in a market of consolidation, we are likely to see more multi-agency platform deals emerge. This could present great opportunities for all types of investors and agencies that are growth-minded and focused on high performance.
In 2016, MarshBerry was the investment banking firm for Alera. MarshBerry brokered the transaction and assisted the management group in closing 24 independent employee benefits, property/casualty, risk management and wealth management firms. This merger marked the first time that 24 independent firms in this industry combined forces. At its inception, Alera, with investment from Genstar Capital, LLC, a leading middle market private equity firm, was the 14th largest privately held insurance firm and 7th largest privately held employee benefits firm in the U.S. By the end of 2017, Alera was the 24th largest broker of U.S. business according to Business Insurance2. Throughout 2018, Alera has continued to be aggressive in the acquisition marketplace with MarshBerry representing 16 firms that were acquired and helping their firm grow aggressively3.
Want to find out how your firm can capitalize on record-high valuations, or looking to create a future for your firm by perpetuating your business? Contact us today at www.MarshBerry.com/Deals.
1Patriot Growth Insurance Services, LLC Press Release, January 22, 2019
2Alera Group, Inc. Press Release, January 4, 2017
3MarshBerry’s proprietary database.
*Marsh, Berry & Company, Inc. and MarshBerry Capital, Inc. do not provide tax or legal advice. Tax and legal professionals should be consulted separately before making any decisions that may have tax or legal implications. Any references to tax implications herein should not be interpreted as the provision of tax advice.
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