Firms Create $42 Billion Company

Firms Create $42 Billion Company

The merger of two of the nation’s oldest black-owned financial services companies has created a full-service firm that will manage more than $16 billion in life insurance and $42 billion in assets. Atlanta Life Financial Group, founded in 1905 by Alonzo Franklin Herndon, a former slave, recently acquired neighboring Atlanta-based financial firm Jackson Securities (No. 7 on the BE INVESTMENT BANKS list with $41.4 billion in total managed issues). The merger was completed on Jan. 17. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Atlanta Life Insurance has roughly $200 million in assets, and Atlanta Life Investment Advisory, founded in 2001, has more than $700 million in assets under management.
Jackson Securities, a full-service investment bank created 20 years ago by former Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson, will retain its name and its senior management team and will operate as a subsidiary of the Atlanta Life Financial Group.

William S. Spriggs, chairman of the economics department at Howard University, says the Atlanta Life-Jackson Securities merger is “a good way of keeping the firms in black hands.” But such events aren’t common enough, Spriggs notes.

“We got into this [deal] because we feel like the business units, though they are different, can actually support each other,” says Ronald D. Brown, president and CEO of Atlanta Life Financial Group, which is made up of two business units: The Atlanta Life Insurance Co. and The Atlanta Life Investment Advisors. Brown says the merger gives Atlanta Life a much broader product offering.

“It could very well have an upward impact on the insurance industry here at Atlanta Life, but I believe it’s in the investment advisers business and in the investment banking business that we’ll see the more immediate lift,” Brown says.