PE HUB Wire Highlights, 3.6.19

Searchlight’s biggest fund ever seeks $2.75 bln; Aon weighs $24B bid for Willis Tower Watson; Blackstone said to sweeten Goodman’s deal

Some big activity in insurance is brewing, Hubsters.

Last month, we saw GTCR lead a group to buy back broker AssuredPartners from Apax. The deal was valued at $5.1 billion. Now there’s word that Aon Plc is weighing a bid for rival insurance broker Willis Towers Watson PlcBloomberg is reporting. The offer could be valued at more than $24 billion.

In 2018, broker M&A was the most active on record, Deloitte said in a report. There were 594 broker transactions in 2018 valued at $8.1 billion. That’s up from 537 deals in 2017 valued at $5.4 billion, Deloitte said.

The whipsawing stock market could spur companies with strong balance sheets to scoop up distressed assets, the Deloitte report said. The M&A market in 2019 is expected to be active, the report said.

Which other brokers are candidates for a sale?  Email me your thoughts to me at lbeltran@buyoutsinsider.com

Don’t leaveBlackstone has sweetened its deal with Bennett Goodman, co-founder of the investment group’s $130 billion credit business, to prevent him from leaving, the Financial Times said. BX is providing faster vesting of a $200 million share award for Goodman. Blackstone has also promised that it will not pay Goodman less than Dwight Scott, a former underling who was named president of GSO Capital in June 2017, the story said.

The deal comes as others have left GSO, including Co-Founder Tripp Smith, who is reportedly planning to start a competing credit firm. Doug Ostrover, also a GSO cofounder, retired from BX and has since helped start Owl Rock Capital Partners, a middle-market lender.

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