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December, 2017

December was another active month for M&A in the Insurance sector. Hyperion, owner of Howden, RK Harrison and DUAL, announced the sale of a $400m minority stake to CDPQ, the Quebec institutional investor for public pension plans, together with a debt refinance for $300m. The Broker Network acquired Thompson & Richardson, the Lincolnshire-based commercial broker with four offices and £27m GWP; PIB Group acquired Lloyd’s broker Citynet Insurance Brokers with its 70 strong team and specialist product expertise and GRP-owned Higos acquired GMM Commercial Insurance Services.

Private equity investors were busy with Pollen Street Capital set to acquire Miles Smith, the 220 staff and £170m+. GWP London-based broker and B.P. Marsh announced a £5m investment for a 20% stake in EC3 Brokers, the specialist in reinsurance and programme business which had £8m revenue in 2016. Also in the London market Tysers, the Lloyd’s broker, announced the acquisition of the London-based commercial lines book of Cosmos Services, the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of the Japanese global trading firm ITOCHU Corporation.

Announced at the beginning of the New Year, Tempcover, the specialist short term cover broker, completed an MBO for £13.3m backed by private equity firm Connection Capital. The private equity backed and branch focused personal and commercial lines broker, A-Plan, announced that it will be acquiring Endsleigh from Zurich. Endsleigh is well known for its long heritage in the student market and has been through a period of transformation.

On the international scene, Denmark’s largest insurance company, Tryg Group announced the acquisition of competitor Alka Forsikring for £1bn, Navigators, the US Insurer, acquired two Belgian insurance companies, Asco and BDM, and Compre, the private equity backed run-off specialist, acquired two run-off books worth €300m from the US and UK branches of Generali, the Italian-based international insurer. Just into January Markerstudy announced that it had signed an agreement for the sale of its Gibraltar-based insurance companies to Qatar Re.

November, 2017

November saw some significant transactions. Allianz, the German insurer, announced its intention to spend almost £2bn buying out minority shareholders in Euler Hermes the credit insurance company with substantial operations in the UK. BGL, the UK personal lines group, announced that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board had invested £675m in the group and, as a result, the planned IPO was shelved while BHL continues to be the majority shareholder. Aviva announced it had acquired the Irish insurer, Friends First, for £116m, subject to regulatory approval, which will take its share of the Irish life and general markets to 15%. Go Compare, the listed insurance aggregator, rejected a c.£460m offer from Zoopla owner ZPG.

Elsewhere, Bollington, the corporate and commercial motor broker, merged with Wilson Insurance Brokers, the personal lines broker headquartered in Manchester, having secured an investment from Inflexion Private Equity, which also acquired Groupama’s stake in Bollington.  The transaction creates a £120m GWP group with a strategy to expand across the UK and develop new product lines. GRP-owned Higos acquired Mellerups, a Gloucestershire-based rural activities specialist, and Gloucester-based commercial broker Cass-Stephens acquired D Paxman, a commercial broker in Malvern.

Private equity firm Preservation Capital acquired a substantial stake in Ascent Underwriting, the cyber and specialist lines MGA, with the intention of developing new product lines and acquiring specialist/emerging risk MGAs.  Internationally, B.P. Marsh investee company XPT Group Inc acquired Western Security Surplus Insurance Brokers, a wholesale and MGA business and Bermuda-based Ascot Group launched Ascot Re, a reinsurance business, having received an additional $1bn of funds from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

October, 2017

The active acquirers were busy in October with County Group announcing two acquisitions: at the beginning of the month it acquired NMJ Insurance Brokers in Halifax; and, at the end of the month, it acquired Inspire Risk Management in Warrington, taking its overall GWP to £90m. GRP announced the acquisition of Poole-based commercial lines broker Alan & Thomas Insurance Group and Minority Venture Partners announced its investment in Borehamwood-based Heath Crawford & Foster

The Ardonagh Group announced two acquisitions from Groupama, that of Carole Nash, the motorcycle specialist, for between £60m - £65m, and Mastercover, the Hertfordshire-based SME and personal lines business. Aon announced it had agreed terms to acquire Henderson Insurance Broking Group, the Hull-based commercial broker with 16 offices across England and over 400 employees, with the transaction expected to complete in December.

Vantage made its first acquisitions since it was acquired by US broker NSM Insurance last year, that of Midlands-based Maybury James, the holding company for classic car specialist, Peter James Insurance, and Stewart Miller McCulloch, an SME commercial broker. Other broking deals included Erskine Murray acquiring Offley Insurance Services in Cheshire, Insurance Linx acquiring Nelsons Insurance Brokers in Derbyshire and Denis O. Brown acquiring Carron Insurance Brokers in Annan.

In the London market, R&Q acquired the ProSight managing agency and the contract to manage the run-off of its Syndicate 1110 and Nexus Group acquired trade credit broker Credit Risk Solutions, with offices in Halifax, Manchester and Birmingham.

Tradewise, a Gibraltar-based motor trade and commercial vehicle insurer, raised £20m from Harwood Private EquityHomelyfe, a personal lines insurtech business, raised an additional £2.4m in a funding round led by Talis Capital and Peterson Ventures.

September, 2017

September was relatively quiet with only one significant transaction being announced, that of the buy-out of Canopius, the Lloyd’s insurance business, from Sompo Insurance for $952m (£729m) with backing from a private equity consortium led by Centerbridge Partners.  Sompo acquired Canopius for $970m (£594m) in 2014.  Bermuda-based Axis completed its acquisition of Novae, the London-listed insurer following its increased takeover offer of approximately £478m.

Elsewhere in the sector, Markel agreed to acquire ECIC, which provides products for contractors and affinity groups across the UK building services sector, for an undisclosed amount.  Sciemus, a specialty Lloyd’s MGA, has secured new investment from HSCM Bermuda and will re-brand to Argon Underwriting.

PIB, the private equity-backed commercial broking acquirer, was active again this month with the acquisition of aQmen, a specialist MGA focused on the charity and faith sectors, and Morton Michel, a Croydon-based specialist broker focused on the childcare sector. CETA, the specialist personal lines and schemes broker, completed an MBO led by John Bibby and backed by private equity firm Kester Capital.

Davies Group, the insurance services group, branched out and acquired Ambant, a specialist insurance provider, creating a new insurance division in the process. Charles Taylor acquired Metro Risk Management, a US claims third party administrator based in Long Beach California.

It was also reported that the AA and Hastings had talks about a general insurance partnership, which have now ceased.

August, 2017

At the start of the month Allianz announced the acquisition of a 49% stake in Liverpool Victoria (LV) for £500m with an agreement to acquire a further 20.9% for £213m in 2019, valuing LV at £1.02bn and creating a £1.7bn personal lines insurer under the LV brand. 

The active acquirers continued to be busy with GRP-owned Marshall Wooldridgeacquiring ECS Insurance Brokers, a Sheffield-based commercial lines business. Broker investment firm Ataraxia backed the management buyout of EIC Insurance Services and, at the end of the month, Ardonagh, formerly Towergate, returned to the acquisition trail with the purchase of Petersfield-based pet insurance business Healthy Pets.

Norwich-based One Broker Group acquired fellow East Anglian broker Gibbs Denley Insurance Services, with offices in Swaveney and Bury St Edmunds. Travel specialist Staysure acquired Avanti Insurance, a rival travel insurance business, creating a combined base of 2m customers. Bennett Christmas continued its acquisitions with the purchase of Slade Edwards Insurance.

Looking internationally, JLT acquired Belgibo, a Belgian specialty broker, Aviva sold its 50% stake in Milan-based Avipop Assicurazioni, a provider of P&C insurance, to Banco BPM and Gibraltar-based Elite Insurance.

July, 2017

July was an active month in the insurance sector, right at the start commercial lines brokers Aston Scott and Lark Group announced their agreement to merge in a transaction backed by Bowmark Capital, the major PE investor in Aston Scott.  Nexus Group, the London based MGA group, had an active month following on from their acquisition last month, with a fund arising of £30m from HPS Investment Partners and existing investor B.P. Marsh, the acquisition of Equinox Global, a trade credit MGA, whose largest shareholder Beazley now becomes a shareholder in Nexus Group as well as continuing to provide underwriting capacity.  Nexus also completed the acquisition of Zon Re, a US based reinsurance underwriting agency.

PIB, the Carlyle backed acquirer, was back in action acquiring Franklands Insurance & Risk Management, a professional risk broker, Green Insurance Group, the Global Risk Partners owned commercial broker, acquired specialist marine broker Collidge & Partners and fellow GRP owned broker Higos acquired Colin Fear Insurance, based in Somerset.  Howden, the retail arm of Hyperion, acquired SME specialist broker Sterling Knight in Singapore.

Insurers were in the news with the recommended cash offer for Novae Group by Axis Capital, the Bermuda based specialist lines insurer and reinsurer, for £467.7m, a multiple of 1.5 to tangible net book value.  Chaucer, the Inter-Hanover owned Lloyd’s insurer, acquired SLE Worldwide Australia, a property and casualty MGA focussed on the sports, leisure and entertainment sectors.

Pay-as-you-go broker Zego has raised £1.2m of additional seed capital in a round led by Local Globe as the company launches its first product underwritten by Aviva.

Just after the month end Allianz announced the acquisition of a 49% stake in Liverpool Victoria for £500m with agreement to acquire a further 20.9% for £213m in 2019, valuing LV at £1.02bn, creating a £1.7bn personal lines insurer under the LV brand.

June, 2017

June saw the confirmation of the £800m bond issue by KIRS, the name of the newly formed consolidation of the Highbridge and Madison Dearborn insurance interests, including TowergateAutonetPrice Forbes and Ryan Direct, placed at 8.375% for its £400m offering and 8.625% for its $520m offering.

Global Risk Partners, the PE-backed insurance investment group, announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Green Insurance Group, a south east based commercial lines insurance broker and Arthur J Gallagher acquired Total Reward Group, a Kent-based consultancy offering remuneration support, executive search, interim placement and training. 

R&Q Group has sold, subject to regulatory approval, its Lloyd’s managing agency, R&Q Managing Agency, which manages Syndicate 1991 with primarily third-party capacity of £127m and Syndicate 3330, whose capacity is provided by the Group and will continue to be so after the sale.  Neon, the Lloyd’s insurer acquired Sapphire Underwriters, a Guernsey-based Lloyd’s coverholder which provides D&O, PI and Cyber coverage to UK and local offshore brokers, from Heritage Group who founded the business with Nigel Brand.

Nexus Group, the London-based specialty Managing Agency announced the acquisition of Vectura Underwriting, a specialist Marine Cargo underwriter and Lloyd’s coverholder, from Aquila Underwriting.

May, 2017

The main news in May was the announcement that Highbridge and Madison Dearborn intend to consolidate their insurance investments into one general insurance group, including Towergate, the SME and corporate commercial broker, Autonet, the van and motor car broker, Chase Templeton, the healthcare broker, Price Forbes, the international specialty business and Ryan Direct, the insurance services and claims management business.  Subsequently, KIRS, the name of the new Group, announced that it was offering an £800m bond, which has been priced at 8.375% for its £400m offering and 8.625% for its $520m offering, and a £990m credit facility.

Broker Network has acquired its second business, Boyd Insurance, an existing network member managing £12m GWP and based in Paisley;  it will be the focus of further acquisition in its area.

April, 2017

April was a more modest month compared to March but saw Nevada Investments,the vehicle backed by HPS Investment Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners, acquire Ryan Direct Group from Ryan Specialty and Stackhouse Polandannounce two transactions: E Coleman, the Poole-based marine and commercial broker and Quantum Underwriting Solutions, the Midlands-based high net worth personal lines broker.

Alan Boswell Group, the East Anglian-based insurance group, announced the acquisition of Sutcliffe Solloway & Company, a Lincolnshire-based commercial broker, bringing group GWP to £90m and employees up to 325. B.P. Marsh, the specialist private equity investor, announced the sale of its 29.94% stake in Trireme Insurance Group to the majority shareholder of the group, US Risk, valuing the Group at £9.9m.

Zurich Group completed its acquisition of the Australian travel insurance group Cover-More for A$71m. InsurTech company Trov, which provides on-demand protection via smartphones, secured $45m of additional funding from Munich Re’s investment arm and Japanese insurer Sompo, took total funds raised to $85m, having launched in the UK and Australia last year.

March, 2017

March sprang into action with a series of material transactions. Early in the month Travelers, the US-based insurance group, acquired Simply Business, the online SME commercial insurance platform, for around £400m, from Aquiline Capital who sold it for more than three times the money it invested 10 months ago, and J.C Flowers, the private investment firm, acquired UK General, the UK commercial MGA, from Primary Group.

Later in the month, CFC Underwriting, an MGA, completed a management buy-out of the business backed by Vitruvian and Hannover Re, the German reinsurance group, acquired Lloyd’s managing agent Argenta, securing direct involvement in the Lloyd’s market with Syndicate 2121. Other transactions included Clear Insurance Group, the London-based commercial broker, acquiring MPW Insurance Brokers, a Kent-based commercial broker, Aston Scott, the PE-backed commercial broker, acquired A.H. Bell & Co, a Derby-based commercial broker.

Academy, the Reading-based commercial broker, acquired Midlands-based Glynwood Insurance Services, extending its geographic reach, Seventeen Group, the London head office based-commercial broking group, also increased its presence in the borders with the acquisition of Westcott Insurance Brokers in Dumfries and Invicta is acquiring the general insurance portfolio of Priory Brokers.

Sompo Holdings has now completed its $6.3bn acquisition of Endurance Speciality, the Bermudan-based commercial insurance and reinsurance business, and will integrate it into the group as Sompo International.

February, 2017

Transaction volumes picked up in February with the most significant announcement being RSA agreeing to dispose of £834m of its UK legacy insurance liabilities to Bermuda-based Enstar Group which it expects will boost its Solvency II coverage by 17-20 points. Towergate raised £40m from the issue of shares to Madison Dearborn Partners, raising their stake to 25.63% and R&Q conditionally raised £16.9m, also through a share placing with institutional shareholders and directors.

A number of acquisitions were completed in the month including Global Risk Partners acquiring Higos Insurance, with 20 offices in the South West and in excess of £50m GWP and Clear Insurance Group acquiring MPW, a Kent-based specialist commercial broker with more than 30 staff. James Hallam acquired specialist commercial broker Motor Race Consultants Insurance Services based in Dorking, Finch (part of Broker Network) acquired County Insurance Services, its second acquisition this year, and Manchester-based Principal Insurance acquired the 7,000 motorcycle policy book from Rampdale Insurance Brokers.

In London CBC UK Limited, a retail and wholesale Lloyd’s broker, completed a management buyout for £4m, funded by B.P. Marsh with Andrew Wallas also acquiring a 15% stake and joining as chairman. Lloyd’s insurer Beazley acquired Creechurch Underwriters, with its 30-strong team based in Canada.

Homeserve, the provider of insured repair solutions, acquired a 35% stake in Vetted Limited, trading as Checkatrade, and a 70% stake in Habitissimo SL, both of them online providers of repair solutions based in Chichester and Spain, respectively, for a combined £37m. Private equity firm Inflexion completed the £40m buyout of MyPolicy, the telematics insurance broker and Verisk Analytics Inc, based in New Jersey acquired Healix International, based in Esher and the provider of healthcare insurance and risk management solutions.

January, 2017

January was a relatively quiet month but that did not stop PIB from closing two deals, taking its record up to eight acquisitions so far.  The most recent being the acquisition of TFP Schemes, a specialist provider of cover to taxis, chauffeured vehicles and other specialist markets and the other being the acquisition of DE Ford, a commercial broker with specialties in religious, charity and care sectors.  At the end of the month the management of  Davies Group, the claims management services group, completed a secondary buyout with backing form HGGC, a Californian mid-market private equity firm, exiting Electra Private Equity who received £45m.

Inflexion were in action, backing the buyout of My Policy for £40m.  Finch, part of The Broker Network, made two small acquisitions, Citymain Insurance Services in North Hampshire and County Insurance Services in Kidlington.

Insuretech has also been raising further money in the form of broker Bought by Many raising £7.5m in additional funding from Munich Re’s Digital Partners business unit and Octopus Ventures.