There was a time when Atlanta-based Ebix Inc. and Darien, Ill.-based could have been mistaken for one another, but not anymore. In two strategic acquisitions forged in February, Ebix Inc. continues its quest to emphasize its business process outsourcing strengths. This became apparent when Ebix said it was acquiring LifeLink Corp., a provider of life insurance sales software applications.Based in Park City, Utah, LifeLink designs products in partnership with independent brokerage clients to create multi-carrier sales proposals.

In the other strategic deal, looks to be staying the course of its original mission: To be an information-driven resource that provides multiple insurance choices to self-directed insurance shoppers. This notion was reinforced when Quotesmith announced it was acquiring privately held Life Quotes, an Evergreen, Colo.-based life insurance agency.

The Life Quotes acquisition is expected to double Quotesmith's revenues and accelerate its path to profitability, states Robert Bland, founder and CEO of Quotesmith.

Strategy shift

Ebix cut its teeth in Web-based distribution of insurance products, but over time it realized that it needed to reinvent itself by stressing technology over aggregation.

For example, Ebix currently offers Ebix ASP, an e-commerce management system for agencies, and also offers EbixOne, which gives agencies and brokers the tools to maximize their operations, including prospecting, marketing, and front-office management.

To reinforce its commitment to business process outsourcing services, Ebix in late December 2003, changed its corporate name to Ebix Inc., from

"Over the last few quarters, the company has expanded its portfolio of services substantially with a strong focus on custom software development and business process outsourcing," comments Robin Raina, chairman, president and CEO of Ebix Inc.

"The former name did not do justice to our brick and mortar infrastructure in India and the related BPO, call center and development divisions."

True to its word, Ebix, which was founded in 1976 as Delphi Information Systems, followed the name change with a strategic acquisition that might add additional traction to its BPO mission.

For independent life brokers, LifeLink offers a solution, WinFlex, which illustrates multiple carrier plans and creates advanced sales proposals. Designed in partnership with the independent brokerage community, WinFlex is regarded as a strong distribution solution for carriers targeting the life brokerage market.

As part of the acquisition, Ebix adds hundreds of brokers to its fold as well as approximately 35 life insurance companies as customers. LifeLink reported revenues of $5.3 million for the 2003 fiscal year-up approximately 23% from the prior year. Ebix intends to run the company as a separate profit center, while retaining all the 35 employees of LifeLink, states Raina.

Still aggregating, on the other hand, continues to emphasize online insurance shopping over everything else. From its Web site, ( Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Inc.), the company provides insurance plans from more than 200 insurers.

For visitors, it promises an insurance shopping experience that entails: "Point, click, buy, save."

The company's acquisition of Life Quotes looks as though it will bolster its position in providing life insurance quotes to customers. Life Quotes employs 80 insurance professionals and will continue to operate as a stand alone profit center in Colorado by current management. Life Quotes had revenue of $10.4 million in 2003.

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