Abry Sells Broker Consolidator to Carlyle
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Abry Sells Broker Consolidator to Carlyle

The Hilb Group, a national insurance broker and a portfolio company of Abry Partners, has agreed to be acquired by The Carlyle Group. Hilb’s existing management team and employee shareholders are expected to remain significant shareholders in the company in partnership with Carlyle.

The Hilb Group is a middle-market insurance broker with more than 900 employees and 91 branch offices that serve all 50 states.  Richmond, VA-based Hilb is one of the Top 30 insurance brokers in the US according to Business Insurance magazine.

The Hilb Group was founded in 2009 by a group of former senior executives, led by Robert Hilb, of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs Co. (HRH) which was acquired by British insurer Willis Group Holdings for $2.1 billion in 2008. In June 2011, Hilb was acquired by Westport, CT-based BHMS Investments. In June 2015, BHMS sold its majority equity ownership in Hilb to Abry Partners.

“This investment by Carlyle is a strong endorsement of our growth strategy and represents the next exciting chapter for Hilb,” said Hilb CEO Richard Spiro. “Carlyle’s additional capital and resources will significantly benefit our company and associates as we grow our business organically and through targeted M&A opportunities.  Working with Abry enabled us to accelerate our development and we are equally excited to have new partners to fuel future growth. We have a rich pipeline of partnership opportunities and look forward to continuing our expansion with Carlyle.”

The Hilb Group is active in acquiring middle-market insurance brokerages and has completed more than 60 add-on acquisitions under Abry ownership. Hilb’s most recent buy, which closed earlier this month, was Avanti Associates, a New York-based personal and commercial insurance brokerage.

“During the four years of our ownership, we helped build Hilb into a national insurance brokerage by investing in the company’s operations and strengthening its management team, including recruiting Richard Spiro as CEO,” said Brent Stone, a partner at Abry. “The company’s annual revenues dramatically increased under our ownership and we successfully completed more than 60 strategic add-on acquisitions during that time.  We are very pleased with the outcome of this investment for our investors and for Hilb’s management team and employees. Hilb is very well positioned for ongoing growth and performance as a portfolio company of Carlyle and we wish them success.”

Abry invests in the media, communications, and business and information sectors. The firm was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Boston.

“We have long admired the Hilb franchise and are extremely impressed with what Ricky Spiro and the Hilb management team have accomplished during the past several years,” said John Redett, a managing director at Carlyle. “We look forward to our partnership, and to supporting Hilb in its next chapter of growth and innovation as it expands into new geographies and product lines to serve the increasingly complex needs of its clients.”

The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) invests worldwide in buyouts, growth capital, real estate and leveraged finance. The firm employs approximately 1,775 people in 33 offices across six continents and is based in Washington, DC.

Carlyle is investing in Hilb through Carlyle Partners VII LP, an $18.5 billion fund that focuses on buyout transactions in the US, and Carlyle Global Financial Services Partners III LP, a dedicated financial services buyout fund.

Ares Capital Management, Crescent Capital Group, Owl Rock Capital, Antares, and Barings are expected to provide debt financing in support of the transaction.

The buy of Hilb by Carlyle is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2019.

© 2019 Private Equity Professional | October 30, 2019

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