NU Online News Service, Nov. 26, 2003, 5:34 p.m. EST – Milliman USA is hoping that recent acquisitions have increased the odds that it will profit from a rebounding economy.[@@]

“We’ve grown while others have cut back, so we expect to come out of the downturn very strong and attract quality people through mergers,” says Milliman Chairman Bradley Smith. “Over the last two years, we’ve been very aggressive in attempting to identify acquisition opportunities.”

Smith says Milliman, a large and influential actuarial and insurance consulting firm, is moving boldly to identify potential partners that would complement its businesses in terms of services, products or geographic area.

Early in November, Milliman bought an insurance technology firm, Focus Solutions Inc., Philadelphia. Milliman immediately used Focus Solutions’ technology to introduce Step, a business-processing platform for the life and health insurance markets.

Soon after that, Milliman announced plans to buy Evaluation Associates, the consulting division of EAI Partners L.P., Norwalk, Conn. That purchase will strengthen Milliman’s presence as a consultant to institutional investors, Smith says.

Acquiring the services of the Evaluation Associates advisory team members “is clearly complementary to our pension side and, we hope, to the life and casualty side, too,” says Smith. “Their consulting advice enlarges our scope of service. We have had a core capability in that area, but Investment Associates puts us in the upper echelon.”

In October, Milliman opened a new office in Greensboro, N.C., to serve qualified and nonqualified retirement plans for both public and private sector clients.

The company also recently announced it has added U.K.-based Morgan Consulting to its network of independent consultants in Europe, extending its life and health actuarial and insurance services to Italy and Spain.

In May, Milliman bought the actuarial software practice of IBM Business Consulting Services, a unit of International Business Machines Corp., Armonk, N.Y. Milliman purchased that unit just a few months after IBM bought it from PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P., New York.

Although Milliman has no further acquisition candidates immediately in its sights, Smith says he expects the company to keep to its “opportunistic” expansion strategy.

“We’re very optimistic we will continue to grow organically as well as through acquisitions,” Smith says.