Carlyle acquires majority stake in EPIC

PETALUMA -- The Carlyle Group, a Washington D.C.-based asset manager, has acquired a controlling equity stake in San Francisco-based EPIC Insurance, which has a Petaluma branch that is home to some of the North Bay's most senior insurance brokers.

Financial terms of the investment, which is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close at year-end, were not disclosed.

With the financial backing of Carlyle, EPIC -- short for Edgewood Partners Insurance Center -- said it will now focus on "strategic growth" though acquisitions across the North Bay while also growing a national footprint.

EPIC had total premium volume of more than $809 million, with more than $494 million in property-casual and nearly $385 million in employee benefits, as of October 2013, according to Vice President Linda Soo Hoo.

EPIC's North Bay branch had $60 million in premium volume in 2012 -- a number it hopes to double within three years. The company as a whole has about $80 million in annual revenue -- a number it hopes to triple within five years, spokesman David Hock told the Business Journal.

"In the North Bay, we are actively seeking potential M&A partners and individual broker and producers who are looking for an opportunity to grow their operations locally," he said. "Strategically, EPIC will continue building on our established platforms in the North Bay and across California but will also look east to replicate in other key regions what we've done here in the Golden State."

The Carlyle Group stressed that the company will maintain business as usual, with the same management and board of directors. It will remain focused on brokerages services in in employee benefits, real estate, hospitality, construction, renewable energy and other industries.

EPIC was founded in 2007 by John Hahn and Dan Francis in San Francisco with funds managed by Greenwich, Conn-based Stone Point Capital.

Longtime North Bay brokers Bill Merget and Mike Ryan launched the Petaluma branch in July 2010. They were formerly of Wells Fargo Insurance Services and ABD Insurance and Financial Professionals. Victor McKnight from Sitzmann Morris & Lavis joined them later.

"We are extremely excited to have The Carlyle Group as this new investor, strategic partner and source of significant fresh capital" Mr. Ryan said. "Carlyle's belief and investment will allow EPIC to remain private while we further expand our operations, both in California and across the country." 

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