Published in Finance

PE-backed High Street Insurance Partners acquires 3 agencies

BY Thursday, May 07, 2020 12:20pm

TRAVERSE CITY — High Street Insurance Partners, a private equity-backed agency platform, recently completed three acquisitions, including two deals in West Michigan.

The agency closed in April on deals for Ken Bleeker Insurance Agency in Martin and Trust Shield Insurance Group in Schoolcraft.

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High Street Partner this month expanded outside of Michigan with the acquisition of New Hartford, N.Y.-based Gates-Cole Associates. That deal closed May 4.

Since forming in June 2018 with backing from Detroit-based private equity firm Huron Capital, High Street Partners has completed 10 acquisitions. The company now has more than 300 employees at offices in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.

High Street Partners expects the three acquisitions will “solidify our position as a leading insurance agency in each of our local markets, which now includes Central New York,” Managing Partner and CEO Scott Wick said in a statement. 

“With the addition of these new agency partners, we are building an even deeper team of respected industry professionals with decades of expertise and community leadership,” Wick said. “Each one of these agencies provides us with the ability to enter new, specialty lines of business.’

High Street Partners pursued the deals as the property and casualty insurance brokerage industry continues to consolidate.

Chicago-based Optis Partners LLC reports 137 deals closed in the first quarter of 2020, a level of activity that’s still historically high, although down from 155 deals in the same period a year earlier.

Optis Partners, which tracks M&A activity in the industry, stated in its first quarter report that it expects deal flow to slow in the second quarter “and possibly Q3 as buyers reassess future projections and valuation implications” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pace and scope of agency M&A continued unabated through most of February, until the realities of this global pandemic started to hit home,” according to the firm’s first quarter report. “Interest in acquisitions for strategic and operational reasons remains very strong, but buyers have started to put on the brakes or completely stop the process until some degree of stabilization has been achieved regarding the impact of the pandemic.”

Optis Partners noted that deal flow for the first quarter was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2016 and has now declined for three straight quarters.

The largest acquirer nationally in the first quarter was Caledonia-based Acrisure LLC, which completed 18 deals in the first quarter, according to Optis Partners. Acrisure has pursued an aggressive M&A strategy for years and in 2019 closed on 98 acquisitions.

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