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Private equity driving insurance industry mergers and acquisitions: Pat Ryan

Private equity driving insurance industry mergers and acquisitions: Pat Ryan

CHICAGO — Investments by private equity companies are driving much of the merger and acquisition activity in the insurance industry and are fueling industry creativity, according to Patrick G. Ryan, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Ryan Specialty Group L.L.C.

“PE money in our industry is everywhere. They’re the most active buyers,” Mr. Ryan said Tuesday at the “What’s Ahead for Insurance M&A and Corporate Finance” conference presented by the Mayer Brown L.L.P. law firm in Chicago.

The private equity investments are prevalent both in insurance underwriting and distribution, Mr. Ryan said, adding, “It’s informed capital.” The investments also are promoting creativity in the industry, he said. “That stimulation of activity by PE firms is also very much a factor in the creation of entrepreneurs.”

While in the past private equity investors wanted “absolute control” over the companies in which they were investing, “today there are a lot of minority investors,” Mr. Ryan said.

Private equity investments also are driving much of the movement of talent from company to company in the insurance industry, Mr. Ryan said. “I have never seen anywhere near the movement of talent like that happening today,” he said.

“It’s a really good time to be a really great underwriter, because there are people who want to put capital behind you,” Mr. Ryan said.