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Fiserv Insurance Faces Rebranding Challenges, Opportunities

Following acquisition by private equity fund, Fiserv Insurance rebrands as StoneRiver; faces identity challenges but also opportunities of private ownership.

On March 2, 2009, Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv Insurance Solutions will rebrand as StoneRiver, as a condition of the acquisition of a majority share of the company by Trident IV, a private equity fund managed by Stone Point Capital, for approximately $540 million, a deal that was announced in July 2008.

Fiserv Insurance Solutions was obligated by the terms of the acquisition to re-brand within 12 months but has accelerated the process, according to Eddie Jones, the vendor's SVP for marketing and communications. "We felt it was important to go ahead and create an independent identity as soon as possible," he comments. "We have a great deal of transitional activity to do, and the sooner we build the new identity, the better -- for our customers, for our presence in the market and for our employees to begin identifying and building the values that will be StoneRiver."

In addition to concerns customers may have about the changes brought by new ownership, rebranding from a well-established name carries the risk that potential customers will fail to associate the new name with the old reputation, notes Karen Pauli, research director, insurance practice, TowerGroup. "However, if done correctly, with a great deal of communication, it is a chance to define the organization," Pauli remarks. "Going out under the StoneRiver name gives the insurance organization the chance to create an identity of its own, apart from Fiserv, where they could, from time to time, get lost in the greater organization."

Fiserv Insurance Solutions/StoneRiver's Jones affirms that the new name will reinforce the vendor's exclusive focus on insurance technology as 'the' business of the company but refers to further benefits related to its new status. "The independence of being a privately held company in a publicly financed space is that we don't suffer from the same kind of market volatility and we have the luxury of investing for the long term in strategic solutions and growth opportunities," he says.

Fortuitous Timing

Among the vendor's longer-term, growth-oriented investments is its Project Ignition, a multi-year effort to establish a common architecture for its core insurance software solutions. The project was launched approximately two years ago and has been in active development for about a year. The vendor plans to complete the common architectural foundation for its products this summer, according to sources.

"While causally unrelated to the company spin-off, the timing of Project Ignition is fortuitous, as it jibes with the notion of a fresh corporate identity," says Donald Light, senior analyst, Celent (Boston). "A common platform also makes sales easier."

Ideally StoneRiver will be able to combine that positive impression with the ability to carry over the positive associations attached to the Fiserv name, according to Light. "That's the challenge they face over the next year or two," he says.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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