Announced deal value for the insurance sector was off sharply in the second half of 2017, though the brokerage sector continued to dominate deal volume, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. report released Thursday.

U.S. insurance sector announced deal value reached $9.0 billion in the second half of 2017, compared with $24.2 billion in the second half of 2016, PwC said in its report.

There were 232 deals announced in the brokerage sector, comprising 86% of deal volume but only 1% of deal value, which was largely split by the life and property/casualty sectors at 50% and 49% respectively, according to figures from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Four large deals of $1 billion or more totaled $6.1 billion in value, with the report noting two transactions by Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. — one acquisition and one divestiture — as well as Assurant Inc.’s November agreement to acquire The Warranty Group Inc. from TPG Capital Management L.P. for $1.9 billion.

Private equity may increase its pursuit of U.S. insurance sector assets, “which are now more attractive due to a lower corporate tax rate,” the report said. It also pointed to increasing interest from Canadian and Asian buyers, but said Asian acquirers face regulatory and shareholder skepticism hurdles.

In addition to traditional deal activity, the property/casualty sector has also seen some large legacy transfer transactions, such as American International Group Inc.’s $9.8 billion deal, excluding interest, with National Indemnity Insurance Co. to take on long-term risks from legacy commercial policies, which was announced in January 2017, the report said.

The brokerage sector was led by what the report termed “serial acquirers” buying regional brokers, with the five most active acquirers led by Caledonia, Michigan-based Acrisure L.L.C. and Chicago-based Hub International Ltd.

Technology is also helping drive deal volume. While insurers have been slower than many other industries to adopt new technologies, “they are increasing investment in technology and innovative platforms,” the report said.

Activity is expected to continue as “insurers are expected to continue to divest capital-intensive or underperforming businesses,” the report said. “Deals in the second half of 2017 ended on a strong note and activity should see further acceleration in 2018 as insurers continue to focus on cutting costs, achieving scale, and enhancing and streamlining or consolidating dated technologies.”

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