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Brown & Brown to buy Hays Companies

Brown & Brown to buy Hays Companies

Brown & Brown Inc. on Monday said it has entered an agreement to acquire Hays Group Inc.

Details of the transaction were not immediately available.

Minneapolis-based Hays Group, which does business as Hays Companies, is the 22nd-largest broker of U.S. business with $197.6 million in 2017 U.S. brokerage revenue, according to Business Insurance’s latest ranking. Its business split is 53.9% employee benefits, 42.3% retail property/casualty and 3% personal lines. The brokerage focuses on risk management, commercial insurance, employee benefits, consulting services, specialty programs and private client services, Brown & Brown said in a statement.

Daytona Beach, Florida-based Brown & Brown is the eighth-largest brokerage globally and the sixth-largest broker of U.S. business, with $1.86 billion in 2017 U.S. brokerage revenue, according to the Business Insurance ranking.

Hays will operate as a region inside Brown & Brown retail. The operations will continue to be led by Jim Hays as CEO, and Mike Egan will continue to serve as president and chief operating officer. Mr. Hays, a former regional executive of Rollins Hudig Hall Co., which is now part of Aon PLC, founded Hays in 1994.

“Because the Hays Companies name, our executive group, and our account teams will not change, we expect a smooth transition. As far as we are concerned, it is business as usual,” Mr. Hays said in the statement.

Following completion of the transaction, expected in November, Mr. Hays will join Brown & Brown as vice chairman and will serve on its board of directors, and Mr. Egan will become a regional president of the Brown & Brown retail segment, according to the statement.

Dan Menzer, a partner at Optis Partners LLC in Chicago., called the deal “interesting.”

He said the move gives Brown & Brown “a stronger presence in the upper Midwest. It reconfirms the market we’re in, buyers are being very aggressive and sellers are taking advantage of the buyers willing to be aggressive.”

According to Optis, broker and agency mergers and acquisitions hit a record pace in the third quarter of 2018 with 174 deals.




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