BB&T Corp., the nation’s fifth largest insurance broker, announced plans Friday to expand in the category by acquiring Regions Insurance Group for an undisclosed price.
The purchase comes shortly after Regions Financial Corp., based in Birmingham, Ala., made public its plans to exit that business.
BB&T Insurance Holdings operates more than 200 offices through subsidiaries BB&T Insurance Services, BB&T Insurance Services of California, McGriff, Seibels & Williams, CRC Insurance Services, Crump Life Insurance Services and AmRisc LLC.
BB&T’s recent insurance deals include spending $500 million to buy Swett & Crawford in February 2016 and $570 million to buy the life, property and casualty insurance divisions of Crump Group Inc. in 2012.
Regions Insurance serves more than 60,000 clients within BB&T’s network in the Southeast, Indiana and Texas. It had more than $1.5 billion in annual premiums and $145 million in annual brokerage revenue.
The deal will serve as a major expansion of BB&T’s fledgling insurance presence in Louisiana, as well as gain its first major insurance market in Indiana. It also boosts its insurance presence in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.
Regions Insurance primarily sells property and casualty and employee benefits products to businesses through a retail network of insurance professionals.
BB&T said that once the deal is completed in the third quarter, its insurance retail network will contribute almost half of its insurance-brokerage revenue.
Insurance represented $1.75 billion in income for BB&T in fiscal 2017, up 2.4 percent. It was nearly 2½ times the next largest fee-income revenue source of service charges at $706 million.
“Regions Insurance significantly adds to our retail insurance network, providing us the opportunity to further build out our footprint in core BB&T markets across the Southeast,” Kelly King, BB&T’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
“With this acquisition, BB&T increases the contribution from our insurance brokerage business to almost $2 billion in annual revenue and further affirms our commitment to growing the business,” King said.
Rick Ulmer, the president and chief executive of Regions Insurance, and other company executives will join BB&T Insurance in senior leadership and other positions.
BB&T said the capital used in the transaction will affect its 2018 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review conducted by the Federal Reserve.
“When I heard Regions was exiting the insurance brokerage business, I almost expected BB&T would acquire that book of business,” said Tony Plath, a finance professor at UNC Charlotte. “It’s a win-win for both companies because BB&T has the scale in the bank-owned insurance business to add the sort of value to the business that Regions just couldn’t capture.”
“When it comes to combining the business of commercial banking with insurance brokerage, BB&T is the recognized industry leader,” Plath said. “So, I would expect additional moves like this one.”
King has told analysts he would be deliberate in making in-market bank deals in the short term.
BB&T spent $2.5 billion to buy Susquehanna Bancshares Inc. and $1.8 billion to purchase National Penn Bancshares Inc. to enter the Pennsylvania market.
BB&T also spent $363 million in cash and stock for The Bank of Kentucky Financial Corp., which gave BB&T its first entry into Ohio.