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Hub sets up regional platform with SilverStone purchase


Hub International Ltd. has acquired Omaha, Nebraska-based SilverStone Group, which will form the base of a new regional platform covering the Great Plains, the Chicago-based brokerage said Wednesday.

SilverStone has additional offices in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It handles commercial property/casualty insurance, employee benefits and personal lines coverage and has more than 4,600 employer clients and 3,700 individual clients, Hub said in a statement. Terms of deal were not disclosed.

“After operating for 75 years as an independent broker, it was important to our 225 Associates and 48 shareholders that we remain a private company and continue to have a significant ownership stake in the business,” John H. Nelson, CEO of SilverStone, said in the statement.

The Hub Great Plains region will include Hub’s existing operations in Omaha, Sioux Falls and St. Paul, Minnesota, the statement said. Mr. Nelson will be president of Hub Great Plains.

The deal marks Hub’s 60th acquisition this year, said Hub President and CEO Marc Cohen in an interview. Total revenue added through acquisitions in 2019 will be close to $250 million, marking a record year for the brokerage. In addition, Hub will “get close to matching” the 66 acquisitions it made in 2018, he said.

“What really made 2019 a special year was the fact that we added three new Hub platforms,” Mr. Cohen said.

Hub defines platform acquisitions as agencies that have more than $25 million in revenue and the ability to attract and acquire fold-in agencies, among other things, he said.

In addition to SilverStone, Hub acquired Crichton, Brandon, Jackson & Ward Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee, and Truss LLC in Kansas City, Missouri, which will also serve as regional platforms.

Demand for insurance agencies and brokerages remains high, and prices for the firms continue to increase, observers say. According to Chicago-based M&A advisory firm Optis Partners LLC, there were a record 490 broker acquisitions in the first nine months of 2019, eclipsing the 481 announced in the first nine months of 2018.

Hub will remain acquisitive going forward, Mr. Cohen said.

“We are prepared to hit whatever market thresholds there are to acquire the best agencies that are available,” Mr. Cohen said. “We still think there’s a lot of value available in the marketplace, and we believe that when agencies join our firm, they become better.”

The brokerage already has about 20 deals it expects to complete in the first quarter of 2020, Mr. Cohen said. Hub is the world’s fifth-largest brokerage and the largest privately owned brokerage, according Business Insurance’s latest rankings.



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