Virtus buys Cobbs Allen benefits practice as industry M&A grows stronger

Brokerage and consulting firm Virtus has acquired the Kansas City-based employee benefits practice of Cobbs Allen, an independent agency that delivers commercial and personal insurance, employee benefits and alternative risk financing services to clients.

“The Cobbs Allen team brings tremendous experience and a strong client base to our organization,” Virtus CEO Andrew Gray says. “Virtus’ global focus is on developing our human capital and sourcing teams and acquisitions which are accretive to our long-term vision.”

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The insurance brokerage industry has seen a wave of M&A activity of late. Last year it saw its highest number of acquisitions with 626 transactions, according to a report from Optis Partners. In the first quarter of 2019 there were 151 deals, compared with the 150 from the first quarter of 2018.

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Brokerages like Alera Group and Patriot Growth Insurance Services have been scooping up other firms at a quick rate. In May, Alera Group completed its tenth transaction of the year when it acquired Shepler & Fear General Agency, a Roseville, California-based brokerage that specializes in large group, small group and self-funding plans. Alera Group has completed 70 such transactions since it launched in 2017. It doesn’t appear this year’s M&A activity will be slowing down.

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“I think we still see a lot of interest on the buy side and there still seems to be a fairly strong inventory of potential sellers,” Tim Cunningham, managing director of Optis Partners recently told Employee Benefit Adviser.

Cobbs Hill declined a request for comment on the transaction, but the company will continue to maintain its property and casualty business in Kansas City. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Our firm developed a relationship with Cobbs Allen locally and nationally,” Gray adds. “ After several meetings we visualized tremendous benefit the acquisition provided to Virtus and made a strong offer to the leadership team.”

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