Business Moves

January 22, 2006

Brown & Brown, Axiom

The acquisition of the assets of Axiom Intermediaries LLC of Stony Creek, N.C. has been completed by Brown & Brown Inc. of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Axiom Intermediaries, with approximately $14.0 million in annualized revenues, is a reinsurance intermediary and consulting firm. It has offices in Stoney Creek; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Naperville, Ill.; and Wilton, Conn.

Following the acquisition, Brown & Brown’s existing reinsurance intermediary is being merged into Axiom. Axiom’s current management will lead the combined operations from its Stoney Creek headquarters and continue to serve clients from its current locations.

In 2005, ACUITY grew its business more than 9 percent, writing over $167 million in new written premium and adding 66 new staff members throughout its 14-state operating region.

“What makes our growth in 2005 particularly remarkable is that it comes during a period of downward pricing pressure on insurance premiums and at a time where many carriers struggle to grow their businesses,” says Ben Salzmann, ACUITY’s president and CEO. ACUITY’s growth rate of 9.3 percent in 2005 compares to the meager 0.8% growth projected for the entire insurance industry. Additionally, over the past four years, ACUITY’s average growth rate is more than double that of the industry.

Independent rating organizations, such as A.M. Best, and benchmarking groups, such as the Ward Group, have consistently noted ACUITY’s ability to grow its business regardless of market conditions.

“What differentiates ACUITY is their commitment to growth,” says Jeff Rieder, partner at Ward Group. “Their ability to generate significant volumes of business quickly is remarkable to see.”

“Our continued strong growth in general, and our robust growth in 2005 in particular, shows that we are pricing both fairly and competitively to help independent agents write business and to service an ever-growing number of individuals, families, businesses, and wage-earners,” Salzmann says.

ACUITY, headquartered in Sheboygan, Wis., is a regional property and casualty insurer that currently operates in 14 states, writes over $750 million in premium through 750 independent agencies, and manages more than $1.6 billion in assets. Selected in 2004 as the Best Mid-Sized Company to Work for in America by the Great Place to Work Institute and named three times to the Institute’s Best Companies lists, ACUITY currently employs 800 people.

Hub International, Talbot Financial

Chicago-based Hub International Limited announced the sale of its Talbot Financial hub, based in San Francisco, including four members of management to Talbot Financial.

One of four hubs created after the acquisition of Talbot from Safeco Insurance in 2004, Talbot Financial had been classified as a discontinued operation during the third quarter of 2005. The Hub has 40 employees and revenue of approximately $5 million. Talbot Financial provides a broad range of financial services to banks and financial institutions.

“We are greatly encouraged by the opportunity to acquire the business we have been managing and pursue new growth opportunities in our markets,” said John Brackett, president of Talbot Financial.

Martin P. Hughes, chairman and chief executive officer of Hub International, said the sale of the specialty hub will not have a significant impact on the company’s growth opportunities or strategies. He added that Talbot Financial is a specialty hub with relatively little cross-selling or other collaborative opportunities with Hub’s other brokerages.

Hub International Limited is a leading North American insurance brokerage that provides a broad array of property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, investment and risk management products and services through offices located in the United States and Canada.

CBIZ, Valley Global Insurance

CBIZ Inc. announced recently that it acquired privately held Valley Global Insurance Brokers, a property and casualty insurance broker, for an undisclosed amount.

The professional business services provider said the San Jose, Calif.-based company has 11 employees and booked about $1.5 million in revenue in the past 12 months. The business focuses primarily on the construction and technology industries. CBIZ said Valley Global will be immediately integrated into its Northern California benefits and insurance operations.

“Property and casualty insurance acquisitions are currently a focus for CBIZ,” said Steven L. Gerard, chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

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