NU Online News Service, Dec. 18, 2003, 6:07 p.m. EST – Wachovia Insurance Services, a unit of Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, N.C., is in a “breath-catching mode” after a series of recent insurance agency acquisitions, says Stewart McDowell, the unit’s newly named president. [@@]
When Wachovia Insurance does resume buying agencies, the deals will be significant, he predicts.
Wachovia Insurance has not bought any agencies in more than a year, but the company continues to evaluate candidates, says McDowell.
Wachovia picked McDowell earlier this week to take over from the current president, David Holton, who is retiring. McDowell is a 26-year veteran of the insurance industry. He joined Wachovia Insurance as chief operating officer in July from Willis Group Holdings Inc., New York.
“I think that future acquisitions will be within the scope of our existing product lines,” McDowell says. “We have historically purchased mainstream property-casualty and employee benefits brokerages, and the life side has also been a great line of business for us. We will continue to look for acquisition opportunities in those fields.”
One change to expect is “a change of appetite” as Wachovia looks for larger agencies, McDowell says.
“Our last acquisition was Cameron M. Harris & Company, and that was the largest one we’ve done,” McDowell notes. “It was extremely successful. I expect future acquisitions will be even larger than that.”
Wachovia bought Cameron Harris, a Charlotte-based insurance broker, in August 2002. Cameron Harris was the largest independent insurance broker in North Carolina.