Beaufort News

Kinghorn, Peoples to be purchased by Chicago insurer

Two insurers with local offices, Kinghorn Insurance Services and Peoples Insurance, are being sold to Hub International Limited of Chicago.

First Financial Holdings of Charleston will sell its subsidiary First Southeast Insurance Services to Hub for about $38 million in cash, the companies announced. They expect the deal to close by the end of the second quarter.

First Southeast is among the largest insurance operations in the Carolinas with about $21 million in annual revenue. It operates 10 offices in North Carolina and South Carolina under brand names Kinghorn Insurance Services, Associated Insurors, Johnson Insurance Associates, Peoples Insurance, Employers Benefit Strategies, Somers-Pardue Insurance Services and Benefit Administrators.

Kinghorn started in Beaufort in 1898 and sold its Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and Ridgeland offices to First Financial in 2001, Kinghorn spokesman Tom Gardo said. The deal will affect the Hilton Head, Bluffton and Ridgeland offices but not the Beaufort office, which is a separate company, Gardo said.

Kinghorn's Ridgeland office and the Beaufort office of Peoples Insurance, which also was affiliated with First Southeast, will be consolidated to Kinghorn's Bluffton office, Gardo said.

Hub plans to keep the Kinghorn name for an undetermined time before switching to Hub International Southeast, said Hub director of media relations Cara Siegel in an email.

Both Gardo and Siegel declined to say whether local employees would lose jobs.

Gardo said Kinghorn officials are excited to join Hub, one of the largest insurance brokerages in North America. He said the deal would provide local consumers access to more expertise and products.

Kinghorn officials also are pleased with Hub's philosophy of operating regionally rather than nationally, to keep decisions in more local hands, Gardo said. Jimmy Rowe, president of Kinghorn and First Southeast, will stay with Hub in a senior capacity, Gardo said.

Hub had been seeking a partner in the Southeast, said its chairman and CEO, Martin Hughes, in a news release. He said First Southeast was attractive because it has a talented staff, a well-diversified business and longevity in the market.