CNO Financial acquires Florida benefits company for $66 million

Carmel-based insurance company CNO Financial Group Inc. has acquired Orlando, Florida-based Web Benefits Design Corp. for $66 million in cash, CNO announced late Monday.

CNO said it could pay the seller an additional undisclosed amount if certain financial targets are met.

Web Benefits Design will continue to operate under its existing name. The company, founded by Ron and Bethany Schenk in 2001, offers employee benefit outsourcing services including online benefits enrollment, COBRA insurance administration, Affordable Care Act compliance and reporting, a multilingual call center and other services.

The acquisition “brings a leading-edge benefits technology platform and a proven track record of digital innovation to CNO,” CNO CEO Gary Bhojwani said in a written statement. "Employee benefits technology is one of the most highly sought-after solutions in the fast-growing worksite marketplace. With WBD's platform, we are strengthening our competitive position to retain and attract employer groups by offering a technology-driven one-stop shop for their benefit needs."

The acquisition will provide “considerable cross-sell opportunities” for CNO’s 375 worksite agents and Web Benefit Design’s 200 affiliated brokers, Bhojwani said.

CNO also released its first-quarter earnings Monday afternoon.

The company reported a quarterly profit of $51.8 million, or 32 cents per share, down from $84.3 million, or 50 cents per share, in the same period of 2018. Revenue rose slightly, from $1.007 billion to $1.023 billion.

Earnings adjusted for non-recurring costs came to 41 cents per share, missing analyst expectations of 47 cents per share.

CNO operates three brands: Carmel-based Washington National, Chicago-based Bankers Life and Philadelphia-based Colonial Penn. Its 11-member senior executive group has five members who work in Carmel, five based in Chicago and one, the president of Colonial Penn, who lives in Philadelphia.

About 1,200 of CNO’s 3,200 full-time employees work in Carmel.

The insurance holding company posted revenue of $1.02 billion in the period.

CNO stock closed at $17.06 per share Monday, a decline of 20 percent over the past year.

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