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February, 2019

February saw a continued flow of announced transactions in the General Insurance segment, mainly on the distribution side and with two of the most prolific consolidators announcing new acquisitions.

Early in the month Peter Cullum-backed consolidator Global Risk Partners (GRP) announced that it was acquiring Trimulgherry Investments (TIL), a collection of six brokers and three MGAs also majority-owned by Peter Cullum. The acquired businesses, with around £45m of GWP, will be integrated into the MGA and broking divisions of GRP. A fortnight later GRP announced the acquisition of Shearwater Insurance Services, an equine insurance specialist based in Hertfordshire, bringing the group’s total deal count since its formation in 2013 to 48.

Elsewhere, PIB announced it had acquired Optis Insurance, an Irish MGA focused on the SME sector that gives the group its first business outside the UK and comes just a month after Aston Lark announced its first acquisition in Ireland. Staying in Ireland, German insurer ARAG Group announced it was acquiring the Irish operations of DAS Legal Expenses, which currently operates as a branch of DAS’s UK business.

In Scotland, Greenwood Moreland acquired fellow Broker Network member Campbell Smith in a transaction that will take the former to £10m of annual GWP.

In the London market, Canopius has reportedly agreed commercial terms to acquire AmTrust at Lloyd’sfrom its US parent AmTrust Financial Services establishing itself as one of the biggest players in the Lloyd’s market with a combined stamp capacity of c. £1.5bn and Dallas-headquartered U.S. Risk Insurance Group (US Risk) announced that it will be acquired by USI Insurance Services (USI). US Risk owns UK businesses MGB Insurance Brokers, Oxford Insurance Brokers and James Hampden International.

Finally, private equity firm Preservation Capital Partners announced it had made a strategic acquisition in Cove Programs, a US-construction focused MGA. This is Preservation’s second MGA deal, following its acquisition of Ascent Underwriting last year.

January, 2019

2019 got off to an active start with notable Insurance M&A activity across underwriting, distribution and claims.

There were two sizeable transactions announced in the UK motor sector. The Co-op agreed to sell its insurance underwriting business CIS General Insurance to create a new distribution agreement for home and motor policies with Markerstudy in a deal worth £185m and private equity firm Inflexion announced a minority investment in Granite Underwriting, via its Partnership Capital Fund.

As touched upon in our December newsletter, the standout transaction on the distribution side was the announcement that Arthur J Gallagher will acquire Stackhouse Poland, the specialist broking group that has been backed by private equity firm Synova. This transaction will only serve to further focus attention on the other private equity-owned consolidators and during the month Bowmark-backed Aston Lark confirmed that it had appointed bankers to explore further investment in the business. Aston Lark followed this by announcing its first international acquisition of Dublin-based broker Robertson Law.

Also in general distribution, Dunedin-backed Kingsbridge announced the acquisition of on-demand PI provider Dinghy, Buckinghamshire-based broker MRIB Group acquired schemes specialist Independents, Broker Network member Saffron made its third acquisition in a year by acquiring Broker Network stablemate Farmer Insurance Brokers and GRP-backed County Group made its fourth acquisition in six months when it acquired Swinford Insurance Consultants.

In Claims, acquisitive Davies Group announced that it had acquired TopMark Claims Management, a Glasgow-based specialist trading as TMS and focused on public sector claims. Davies Group also announced that it had secured a minority investment from Alberta Investment Management Corporation(AIMCo), the Canadian pension fund, which will sit alongside private equity backer HGGC. AIMCo is just the latest Canadian pension fund to invest in the wider UK general insurance sector, with both Hyperion and BGL also having secured investment from similar sources (CDPQ and CPPIB respectively) over the past 18 months. Across the Atlantic, another Canadian pension manager, PSP Investments, made an investment in Alliant Insurance Services, one of the US’s largest independent brokerage firms, reinforcing an increasingly common theme.

Finally, in the debt capital markets, Marsh & McLennan Companies announced the pricing for its bond issuance funding its takeover of Jardine Lloyd Thompson and Hg completed a refinancing of A-Plan, taking the proceeds returned to the Hg7 fund to just under £200m, c.1.3x its original investment in the business.