Preferred Concepts Buys Wholesale Broker Mercator

June 8, 2010

The restructuring of the property/casualty insurance wholesale and specialty brokerage market continues as Preferred Concepts, LLC, a national program administrator, announced it has acquired of Mercator Risk Services, a wholesale broker.

Mercator Risk Services is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Preferred Concepts and will continue to trade under the Mercator Risk Services brand.

Preferred Concepts is a privately held organization formed in 1989. It operates out of four offices in New York City, Irvine, California and Westport and Hamden, Connecticut.

The combined company, with 85 employees in Atlanta, Hartford, New York, San Francisco and Westport, Conn., will remain headquartered in New York.

In January 2006, equity firm Stone Point Capital LLC acquired a minority interest in Preferred Concepts, LLC and its affiliates. Stone Point Capital was also behind the formation of Mercator Risk Services in January 2006.

The management team of Mercator has been led by John Addeo as chairman and Christopher Treanor as president and chief executive officer. Addeo is the former CEO of Alliant Resources. Treanor was formerly CEO of Marsh’s worldwide placement operations.

Treanor will continue in his role as president and CEO of Mercator Risk Services and as senior executive vice president of Preferred Concepts with a broad set of responsibilities, according to the announcement.

The acquisition continues the soft market reshuffling of the wholesale world in 2010:

  • Today’s news that Swett London-based independent wholesale broker Cooper Gay and Atlanta-based U.S. wholesale broker Swett & Crawford are in advanced deal discussions.
  • There was the major deal in April in which wholesalers AmWINS Group, Inc. and Colemont Insurance Brokers merged to form a giant specialty insurance distributor placing more than $4.8 billion in annual premiums worldwide.
  • Also in April, Victor O. Schinnerer & Co., Inc. acquired HSBC Insurance Services (USA) Inc., the energy insurance brokerage of HSBC Insurance.
  • That same month online marketplace MarketScout teamed with Glenn Hargrove, former CEO of Crump, Inc., to launch MarketScout Wholesale (MSW), which will combine wholesale brokerage and managing general agency (MGA) services with new distribution technology.
  • In February, the founder and retired chairman and CEO of the world’s largest insurance broker, Aon, Pat Ryan, announced the launch of his new company, Ryan Specialty group (RSG) , which will offer specialty services to insurance brokers, agents and carriers.
  • Earlier this month, a group of 100 employees left another giant wholesaler, CRC Insurance Services. CRC said it believes they went to work for a competitor.

Just two years ago, Mercator was the one doing the acquiring when it bought Tennant Risk Services Insurance Agency LLC, a Hartford, Conn.-based wholesale broker and underwriting manager. At that time, the firms said that their combined writings were $111 million in premium.

“I am delighted that we are strengthening Preferred Concepts’ capabilities by partnering with Chris Treanor and the entire Mercator team to offer clients transactional wholesale brokerage services nationally,” said Stuart A. Farber, president and CEO of Preferred Concepts.

“Our transactional wholesale expertise at Mercator complements Preferred Concept’s strong programs and retail relationships. The combination creates a stronger company with enhanced retail and longstanding carrier relationships,” said Mercator’s Treanor.

Preferred Concepts offers coverages and programs on a program administrator and open brokerage basis, as a managing general agent, and online. It has capabilities through our affiliated companies, including:

  • Integrated Risk Facilities, Inc. – Manager of a Risk Purchasing Group that provides primary liability and high-limit umbrella solutions for real estate and hospitality risks.
  • Protector PG – A proprietary Risk Purchasing Group offering an additional primary liability option for real estate and hospitality risks.
  • A Zurich platform, ezumbrella.com, which enables brokers and agents to quote, bind and secure commercial umbrella insurance for companies in the construction, hospitality, manufacturing, real state, restaurant, retail, service and wholesale industries.
  • IRF Administrators – An accounting, claims reporting and client services unit.

In May 2002, Preferred Concepts merged with Program Managers, Inc., another umbrella program manager.

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