M&A Activity

M&A Growth in 2017

Data from the first half of the year shows a healthy appetite for mergers and acquisitions.
By: | August 29, 2017 • 2 min read

The first half of 2017 saw robust growth of M&A activity.

Deal value more than tripled to $10 billion, compared to $2.9 billion in the first half of 2016, according to PrincewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance LLC’s “U.S. Insurance Deals insights 1H 2017.”


“When you think about the insurance industry, you have to remember there are a lot of smaller deals happening without announced deal values. There is a lot of activity that occurs behind the scenes,” said John Marra, U.S. Insurance Deals Leader and Global FS Deals partner of PwC.

“There’s a lot of capital out there looking for opportunity in the insurance industry, and it’s a slow, sometimes complex process to get deals announced and completed,” he said. “There was a little bit of a pause last year, at the end of 2016 — third and fourth quarter — and due to the success of closed deals in the prior year or two, more deals came out at the start of this year.”

“The brokerage trend continues, as big players are investing where they can. Based on what we saw [in the first half of the year], I think the main question is ‘Who’s going to come to market?’” — John Marra, U.S. Insurance Deals Leader and Global FS Deals partner of PwC

A total of 249 insurance deals were announced in the first half. Insurance broker deals were most active at 90 percent of deal volume, reported PwC.

The largest deal announced in the first half of the year was the acquisition of insurance broker USI by an investor group, including private equity firm KKR and Canadian pension fund CDPQ, for $4.3 billion.

John Marra, U.S. Insurance Deals Leader and Global FS Deals partner, PwC

“The brokerage trend continues, as big players are investing where they can. Based on what we saw [in the first half of the year], I think the main question is ‘Who’s going to come to market?’” Marra said.

“A number of players came to the market at the end of last year. It got others asking, ‘should we be an acquirer?’ ‘Should we be acquired?’ These are key decisions being made,” he said.

Among the key M&A trends, the life sector led the market in deal volume, while property/casualty contributed most to deal value.

“New capital continues to drive annuity and life business. The P&C side is a little different — premium and profitability growth are hard to come by,” said Marra, “so opportunities remain for small- to medium-size companies to build much-needed scale through consolidation.”

In the life and annuity sector, opportunities exist for insurers to exit capital-intensive or non-core businesses with plenty of investor interest in closed blocks and a narrower product concentration.

PwC predicts a healthy appetite for deals to continue through the second half of the year. One such example is Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm, acquiring The Carlyle Group’s Stake in EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants. EPIC is a retail P&C insurance brokerage and employee benefits consultant valued at $977 million.

The acquisition will give Oak Hill a controlling equity position in EPIC and enable EPIC to continue its organic growth strategy. The investment is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017, another example of a continued robust market. &

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer and a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

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The Profession

Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?


I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?


Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?


A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]