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The Deal: Apax's Hub Goes For $4.4B

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hub International the Chicago-based global insurance brokerage, is being dealt between private equity sponsors in a $4.4 billion deal.

Apax Partners is the seller, which, in conjunction with Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, the investment bank's PE arm, acquired Hub International for about $1.8 billion in 2007. Hub had considered an initial public offering prior to the sale--which was first reported by Reuters in April--and had inbound inquiries from strategic parties as well, prior to selling to Hellman & Friedman LLC, a source said.

Hub International's management is also retaining a stake, according to a joint announcement on Monday, August 5, from the company and the private equity firms. One source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said the management stake would be greater than 20%.

The transaction generated a three times cash multiple for investors Apax and Morgan Stanley, according to another source familiar with the transaction. Both private equity firms exited all of their investment in Hub.

Hub has been in growth mode ever since its acquisition by Apax and Morgan Stanley, which used M&A to beef up the policy provider. The bulk of its 150 acquisitions undertaken since 2007 included expanding into Brazilian markets as well as increasing the company's presence in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. In its statement, Hub said that after M&A fees its 2013 revenue would be approximately $1.2 billion.

Hub originally started out in Canada when it was formed from a merger of 11 of that country's brokerages in 1998; after several years of expansion in North America it moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001. During Apax's investment in the company it grew to become the largest insurance brokerage in Canada.

Leveraged buyout shops have been involved in a flurry of insurance sector activity. While M&A has been down across many sectors in 2013, the value of all financial services deals represents the third most-active sector, according to Reuters data covering the first half of the year.

Private equity firms have been increasingly taking on insurance and annuities plays in 2013. The Hellman buy comes after Kohlberg Kravis Robert's acquisition of Alliant Insurances Services from Blackstone Group (BX), and after Canadian PE firm Onex bought USI Holdings for $2.3 billion from the private equity arm of investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS).

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