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Brokerage sees changes


Chicago-based Acordia Inc., now known as Wells Fargo Insurance Services Inc., was formed in 1989 by Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. to serve as Anthem's health plan administration and distribution arm.

It made its entrance into the retail brokerage business with the 1991 acquisition of Robinson-Connor Inc. of Erie, Pa., and grew its brokerage operations over the years via an aggressive acquisition strategy and emphasis on local service to middle-market businesses in midsized cities.

In 1997, Acordia's management, together with the lead investment banking groups Knightbridge Capital L.L.C. and Wand Partners Inc., bought $285.9 million of Acordia's predominately property/casualty brokerage operations from Anthem for $310 million.

Then in 2001, Wells Fargo & Co. acquired Acordia, which BI ranked as the world's seventh-largest brokerage in 2000 with $337.2 million in 1999 brokerage revenues, in the biggest bank/broker deal to date.

While integration has not come without some bumps in the road, Acordia changed its name to Wells Fargo Insurance Services in February and plans are under way to more closely align all of Wells Fargo's insurance operations.

The brokerage has also seen significant management changes as of late.

After being tapped to succeed Chief Executive Officer Frank C. Witthun in 2003, Kevin W. Conboy, Acordia's chief operating officer, was replaced in December 2005 by Peter J. Wissinger, a 20-year veteran of Wells Fargo. After serving less than a year at the helm, Mr. Wissinger was then replaced by Dave Zuercher, who had been Acordia's chairman since the Wells Fargo acquisition.

ABD Insurance & Financial Services Inc., previously known as Alburger Basso de Grosz Insurance Services Inc., was formed through the 1990 merger of the Mario L. Basso Agency and the Alburger de Grosz Agency and continues to be run by Chairmen Bruce Basso and Frederick J. de Grosz.

It has made a name for itself serving the middle and upper-middle market and is particularly well-known for its directors and officers liability and technology specialties.

In addition to maintaining strong organic growth rate, the Redwood City, Calif.-based brokerage has grown its business through acquisitions such as Lucini/Parish Insurance Inc. in Reno, Nev., in 2005; Seattle-based Sullivan & Curtis Insurance Brokers of Washington L.L.C. in 2003; and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Minet Technology Services in 1997.

Greater Bay Bancorp acquired ABD in late 2001 for nearly $200 million.

In terms of international capabilities, ABD was the first U.S. member of the Worldwide Broker Network, while WFIS formed the HLA Global network in 2001 through a joint venture with London-based broker HLF Insurance Holdings Ltd.