Monday, April 12, 2010

AmWINS May Top Its Sector After Colemont Brokerage Buy

AmWINS Group Inc. said it has acquired Colemont Insurance Brokers in Dallas, in a move which may make it the nation’s largest wholesale brokerage, a consultant suggested.

Financial terms of the transaction were not released.

In a statement, Charlotte, N.C.-based AmWINS said the two companies combined will distribute over $4.8 billion in annual premiums with more than 1,800 employees in 16 countries worldwide.

The combined companies will operate under the AmWINS Group name and be comprised of four divisions:

• AmWINS Brokerage, which distributes property and casualty and financial services products through retail brokerage clients.

• AmWINS Underwriting, which is the managing general agent.

• AmWINS Group Benefits, which designs, distributes and administers specialty group insurance products through retail insurance brokerage clients.

• Colemont Global Group, the company’s International Division, which operates as a full-service, worldwide insurance and reinsurance brokerage network headquartered in London with more than 25 offices in 16 countries.

The combined firm will be led by M. Steve DeCarlo, chief executive officer; Skip Cooper, president; James Drinkwater, president, U.S. Brokerage division; Sam Fleet, president, Group Benefits division; Michael Lapeyrouse, Underwriting division leader and president, The American Equity Underwriters Inc.; and Surinder Beerh, CEO of Colemont Global Group.

Mr. DeCarlo said in a statement, “Not only does this combination strengthen our geographic footprint, but more importantly, we have expanded the expertise and capabilities available to our clients.”

The combination, he added, “results in broadened placement expertise, deepened collaboration and an overall ability to offer more solutions to our retail customers with an enhanced distribution system for our markets.”

Gene Eisenmann, retired founder of Colemont, noted, “From the beginning, the two firms have had similar cultures—strongly founded in being independent and doing what is best for the client.”

He remarked, “Bringing the two firms together provides an opportunity to combine the best talent in the industry with access to the most diverse product solutions and unparalleled relationships with insurance carriers and markets.”

AmWINS said this acquisition will mark its first foray into the international insurance marketplace. “We have studied and evaluated many opportunities to grow our firm beyond the U.S. borders,” said Mr. Cooper. “The opportunity to build upon the international network and capabilities of Colemont Global Group is an exciting part of this combination.”

Audra Szollosy, senior vice president for the agency consulting firm Hales & Company (which was not involved in this deal), said the acquisition could put the firm ahead of CRC Insurance Services, which reportedly has over $3 billion in premium and is owned by Winston Salem, N.C., bank BB&T Co.

“I was shocked,” she said. “This is a big deal and could be the sign of things to come.”

With Colemont’s overseas presence, she called it a “fabulous combination.”

After a very quiet 2009 in regard to merger and acquisition activity, she said this could be a sign of the beginning of additional consolidation, possibly among the top 10 insurance broker wholesalers.

AmWINS is a wholesale broker distributor of specialty insurance products in the United States. The company operates through more than 45 offices across the United States and handles premium placements in excess of $3.5 billion dollars annually.

Additional information about AmWINS is online at

Colemont, with 700 globally located employees, was founded in 1992 and placed over $1.3 billion in gross premium last year.

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