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Brokerage M&A update: East and West

BrokerLink enters Maritimes with purchase of MCT; Western Financial Group completes Falkins acquisition

BrokerLink has expanded significantly into Atlantic Canada with the purchase of MacDonald Chisholm Trask, one of the largest regional brokerages in the Maritimes. Terms of the deal, which was announced today, were not disclosed.

MacDonald Chisholm Trask (MCT) has a history dating back over 60 years in the region. Specializing in personal, commercial, marine, special risks and program insurance, the firm came together when current MCT president Michael Brien purchased MacDonald Chisholm in 2002 and L.G. Trask in 2005. MCT, which has 18 offices and 110 employees across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrodor, will continue to operate under its current name, said Pete Weightman, president of BrokerLink in a release. Brien will join BrokerLink as head of its Atlantic operations.

Read: Profile of MCT from September 2013 issue

“BrokerLink is a strong and growing organization. Together we will have the resources to maintain our significant presence in Atlantic Canada, provide great career opportunities for our staff, and deliver an exceptional customer experience through our network of local offices,” said Brien.

The acquisition significantly expands the BrokerLink brand in Canada, which currently operates only in Ontario and Alberta. Established in 1991, the BrokerLink companies, which include Canada Brokerlink Inc., Canada Brokerlink (Ontario) Inc. and Canada Brokerlink Financial Inc., are subsidiaries of Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC). The acquisition expands BrokerLink to over 85 offices with more than 950 employees across Ontario, Alberta and Atlantic Canada.

Read: BrokerLink helped drive up multiples: Succession Planning Conference panelist

“We are very pleased to welcome MCT, Michael Brien and their 117 employees to BrokerLink. Our organizations share similar business values as well as a deep commitment to local communities. We will continue the MCT tradition of providing excellent service as we offer insurance solutions to the people of Atlantic Canada. MCT customers will continue to be served by the same trusted brokers familiar with their protection needs,” said Weightman in a release.

BrokerLink recently expanded its Ontario operations with the purchase of three Ottawa-area brokerages in October 2013.

Western Financial Group acquires acquires remainder of Falkins Group

On the other side of the country, High River, Alberta-based Western Financial Group announced on January 6 that it is now the full owner of Falkins Insurance Group Limited (Falkins), the largest general insurance brokerage in the Kootenays. Western first announced that it had entered into a strategic partnership with Falkins by acquiring a 20% ownership stake in May 2005. The company increased its ownership position to 40% in August 2010 with the opportunity to acquire full ownership of Falkins by December 31, 2013. As part of the acquisition, all 11 Falkins branches and more than 100 employees will become a part of Western.

Read: Jeff Burke succeeds Scott Tannas as CEO of WFG

“We are thrilled to have finalized our ownership position and officially welcome the Falkins team to the growing Western Financial Group of companies,” said Jeff Burke, president and CEO of Western Financial Group in a release.

Since first announcing the partnership, Western has increased its presence in the Kootenays by securing the naming rights for Western Financial Place, as well as serving as the title sponsor for the inaugural Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo in 2013.

Read: Coast Capital Insurance Services biggest acquisition for WFG

Falkins Insurance Group has a 115-year history. The brokerage began selling insurance in the Gold Rush town of Fort Steele, British Columbia, in 1897 and relocated to Cranbrook in the early 1900s, where it continued to expand for the following 100 years. Falkins Insurance is the largest general insurance brokerage in the Kootenays, with 11 offices and more than 100 professionals.

Follow us on Twitter at @CITopbroker for the latest M&A news.

See also:

Scott Tannas named to Canadian Senate

How WFG HQ survived the Alberta floods in October 2013 issue of Corporate Risk Canada