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Former HRH exec forms brokerage

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Former HRH exec forms brokerage

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y.—A former president of Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs Co. is heading a new brokerage holding company that plans to target middle-market clients and expand regionally from an initial hub in suburban New York.

Robert Lockhart, who resigned as HRH's president and chief operating officer in May 2005, has formed Kinloch Holdings Inc., which completed its first move Sept. 29, acquiring Genatt Associates, a New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based broker. Genatt, which had $26 million in 2005 revenues, specializes in real estate, construction, transportation, health care and hospitality risks.

With Genatt as a base, Kinloch will expand with additional acquisitions in the New York area, new brokerage hires and organic growth, Mr. Lockhart said. The company's goal is to establish additional regional hubs in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions--particularly in Boston and Washington--and to expand those operations with additional acquisitions, he said.

While Kinloch will take a measured approach to geographic growth, "acquisitions are something you have to be opportunistic about," Mr. Lockhart said. "If the opportunity came up in the next six months to launch a similar project in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington (or) Chicago, we would certainly look at that opportunity."

Kinloch is backed by equity capital from Northaven Management Inc. of New York and Hartford, Conn.-based CCP Equity Partners, formerly Conning Capital Partners. James Zech, investment manager with Northaven, is a director of Bermuda-based Max Re Capital Ltd. and a founding partner and president of insurance equity firm High Ridge Capital L.L.C.

ING Capital L.L.C. will provide the new broker's debt financing, Kinloch reported.

Northaven and CCP have already provided much of the $150 million in equity capital that Kinloch expects to raise, Mr. Lockhart said, adding that a third equity investor is expected to provide additional capital for the company's next major acquisition.

Another such acquisition is not imminent, but a couple of smaller New York-area deals are in the works and could be completed this year, he said.

Unlike recent startup Integro Ltd.--which has focused on large corporate clients since its 2005 creation by former executives of Marsh Inc.--Kinloch will concentrate on middle-market accounts.

And Genatt will serve as the platform for building a wider middle-market presence in the Northeast, Kinloch's backers say.

Genatt's brokers "understand what middle-market insurance buyers want--people who can solve problems and bring a personal touch to the business," Mr. Zech said in a statement.

Les Genatt, the firm's principal, noted that he had been approached by "eight of the top 10 brokers and most of the major banks" about selling Genatt Associates. But "with Kinloch, we have the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of building a powerful, client-focused organization," he said in a statement.

Along with Genatt's existing specialties--which also include environmental impairment liability--Kinloch will develop additional practices in professional liability and mergers and acquisitions risks, Mr. Lockhart said.

Kinloch, incorporated in Delaware and based in New Hyde Park, is the latest startup broker formed in the wake of the industrywide contingent commission investigation launched by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's 2004 lawsuit against Marsh.

Mr. Lockhart resigned from HRH after a review of the company's business practices found that an employee in HRH's Hartford office had arranged in 1998 for potentially "improper" payments in connection with professional liability insurance placements, HRH reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (BI, May 30). Mr. Lockhart headed the Hartford office at the time; the employee in question was terminated, the filing said.