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After a record number of deals completed in 2020, insurance brokerage mergers and acquisitions slowed in the first quarter of 2021, Optis Partners LLC reported Monday.
Transactions among U.S. and Canadian agents, brokers and related companies fell to 150 in this year’s first quarter, down nearly 50% from the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the report from the Chicago-based investment banking and financial consulting firm.
Following a surge in fourth-quarter 2020 transactions, which were fueled by pent-up demand after the industry adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns over potential increases in capital gains tax, “it appears the industry needed a breather” and posted the lowest volume of deals since the first quarter of 2016, the report said.
Several of the most active acquirers logged below-average deal counts (see chart).
The most active buyer group remained PE-hybrid, that is private-equity-backed brokers or firms with significant outside financial support, which accounted for 61% of transactions in the first quarter, the report said.
The biggest deal completed during the quarter was Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC’s purchase of PayneWest Insurance Inc., an independent agency with about $135 million in annual brokerage revenue and the 33rd largest brokerage of U.S. business, according to Business Insurance’s most recent ranking.
“Activity in the remainder of 2021 will likely rise, though perhaps not to the level of 2020. The principal driver will be flushing out the remainder of potential sellers that didn’t pull the trigger in 2020 as the expected tax increase should actually take effect in 2022 instead of 2021,” the report said.