Aon Swallows Breitstone, Completes Power Broker Environmental Hat Trick
With Aon's purchase of the environmental broker Breitstone & Co. Ltd., and the naming of Peter Breitstone as managing principal and chief executive officer of its Environmental Services Group, the No. 2 insurance broker has scored a hat trick in the brokerage of environmental risk.
Three of the top five environmental brokers cited by risk managers in Risk & Insurance®'s Power Brokers issue (Feb. 2006) now work for Aon: Breitstone, Greg Schilz and David W. Bennink.
"Aon has purchased the environmental assets, and we're now Aon employees," Breitstone said, "and I'm now CEO of their environmental business, and we're charged with significantly growing the practice."
Also joining Aon as part of the Breitstone team are environmental industry veterans Ken Ayers, Schilz, Rod Taylor, Howard Tollin and Keith Jurss. Collectively, the group brings more than 100 years of environmental experience to Aon, according to an Aon statement.
Breitstone and Schilz were named Power Brokers by Risk & Insurance®earlier this year, as was Bennink.
"It's really exciting, and it's a great move for them, for both of us actually," Breitstone said.
Aon's scale will allow the former Breitstone brokers to grow. "Aon brings a couple of things," said Breitstone. "Aon brings scale, it brings a lot of support and it brings a client base that needs the kinds of environmental risk services that we provide. The global, large accounts certainly have sustainability and environmental risk issues, and their middle-market business, there's a lot of companies today that have environmental issues, and by providing the capabilities that we have, we can help them through that."
"Certainly Aon has a very strong construction (practice), and that has a lot of environmental issues associated with it," Breitstone added. "They have really a budding and robust mergers and acquisitions group that will help them, and Aon's got a very strong initiative with lawyers, and a lot of our business comes from lawyers. That's a very dynamic area, real-estate lawyers, environmental lawyers, mergers and acquisitions lawyers."
The boutique broker had been a pre-eminent provider of environmental risk and insurance management services for clients in transportation, technology, real estate, construction and manufacturing. Breitstone also said the deal, announced in July, had been under discussion "several months." Breitstone & Co. Ltd.'s entire team, six principals and two support staff, were bought by Aon.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Breitstone said he had talked to other potential suitors about the purchase. He declined to elaborate, saying only that he was attracted to Aon's entrepreneurial spirit. "Other organizations that we might have been talking to, we were concerned we were going to get stuck in the bureaucracy," he said.
"We've been for quite some time looking for the next step, and it was a conscious effort to discuss with various parties what might be available," said Breitstone. "It was clear to us that the Aon senior leadership was committed to growing the environmental business and that they had a good group of clients and a good group of talent as a core base, and that by them acquiring us, it would really give us the platform to go to the next level."
Breitstone & Co., based in Cedarhurst, N.Y., with brokers in New York, Chicago, Nashville, Tenn., and San Francisco, will be based in Jericho, N.Y., less than an hour away.
Asked if Aon, the No. 2 broker with offices around the world, would not be too big for a specialized niche broker to thrive, Breitstone said commitments "at the highest levels" had reassured him that his environmental team would be allowed to serve clients unfettered.
September 1, 2006
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