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Associated Banc-Corp

Green Bay, WI

Overview

Long-time client Associated Banc-Corp approached our team in late March 2020 regarding the potential sale of Associated Benefits & Risk Consulting (ABRC). We had assisted Associated in building the unit over the previous decade, having worked on numerous acquisitions that turned ABRC into the 36th largest broker of U.S. business providing employee benefits, retirement plans, compliance, business insurance, risk management and individual insurance solutions. When the time came for Associated to monetize that investment, our team had the deep knowledge of the business needed to make things happen.

Challenges

The biggest challenge was the macro-environment: getting a deal across the finish line amid the greatest worldwide public health crisis in over a century. Owing greatly to the COVID-19 outbreak, global deal values declined over 35% during 1Q 2020, and against that backdrop, transactions in the pipeline were coming under stress as pre-crisis valuations came under intense scrutiny. For these reasons speed was of the essence.

Solution

Working with the client and other deal advisers, our team moved quickly to identify the speed bumps in the transaction timeline. Both buyer and seller were sophisticated deal veterans and committed to finding the common ground needed to consummate the transaction. Our team addressed major outstanding issues, including the structure of the ongoing landlord-tenant relationship between the counterparties.

Result

Just over a month after commencing the project, we helped Associated close a $265 million sale of ABRC to New York-based USI Insurance Services, a leading insurance brokerage and consulting firm backed by KKR and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. The transaction is expected to close during 3Q 2020, at which point Associated will have successfully enhanced shareholder value, while supporting the loan growth needed by borrowers during the COVID-19-related economic downturn.

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