The month started with Hardy announcing that it had received several preliminary expressions of interest, with Beazley announcing later in the month its interest in entering discussions. Axa announced the sale of Denplan to Simplyhealth for £115m, their second acquisition of the year, and Cigna finalised the acquisition of First Assist Insurance Services with FirstAssist Legal Group being sold to Burford Capital.
Other acquirers were Randall & Quilter acquiring Synergy a provider of specialist insurance services, RK Harrison broadening its expertise with the acquisition of Mercury West Associates, Central acquiring Edinburgh based Castle Cairn and JLT acquiring in Ireland. Haverford pulled its original offer to purchase a stake in Omega and then issued a lower value offer. Speculation arose on who would be the successful purchaser of Insurance Dialogue as well as whether Groupama would be a seller of its UK assets following a review by JP Morgan.
In a busy month for insurance Aegon has completed the sale of its Guardian UK life and pensions company to private equity group Cinven for £275m whilst Resolution-owned Friends Life announced the acquisition of Winterthur Life UK from Axa in a deal worth more than £2.7bn and US broking conglomerate AmWINS agreed to acquire AIM-listed Lloyds broker THB.
Towergate acquired caravan and motorhome insurance comparison site Caravanquoter, Oxygen agreed to sell event insurance specialist Robertson Taylor to Entertainment Insurance Partners as well as announcing its intention to sell all its remaining assets and Jardine Lloyd Thompson is merging its Italian business, and taking a 25% stake in the JV, with Marine & Aviation S.p.A. Hyperion’s Howden Broking Group has acquired selected Asian operations of Accette Insurance Group with other infill acquirers including Aston Scott, Quindell Portfolio, Higos Insurance Services, The Insurance Partnership, CCV and Clear Insurance.
The FSA has approved Bermuda investment firm Haverford’s proposed 25% acquisition in Lloyd’s insurer Omega which shareholders have favoured over Barbican’s offer whilst bid rival Canopius has withdrawn. The High Court has approved the sale of Quinn Insurance to a joint venture of US insurer Liberty Mutual and Anglo Irish Bank whilst run-off buyout specialist Randall & Quilter has bought run-off insurer Principle for £4.3m. CVC is also understood to have offered £4bn for RBS’s Insurance business.
Overseas, JLT has completed its acquisition of a 50.1% stake of Alta, the Chilean broker Orbital’s holding company, whilst American Life Insurance Co (a subsidiary of MetLife Inc) sold its Isle of Man life insurance operation in run off to Charles Taylor Consulting.
Dunedin-backed Practice Plan acquired Isoplan, the provider of dental service plans and Jon Ralph led a management buy-out of Broker Assistance, the motor claims management service provider, from the administrators. Other infill acquirors included Invicta Insurance Services, RK Harrison and Quindell Portfolio plc. Finally the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) have confirmed a merger with the Institute of Insurance Brokers (IIB).
Lloyd’s insurer Omega continued to attract attention from Haverford, Canopius and Barbican looking to merge or acquire a stake, whilst insurance group Torus confirmed its purchase of Lloyd’s underwriting business Broadgate. Ryan Specialty completed the acquisition of specialist insurer Lloyd’s insurer Jubilee.
US-based McLarens Young International announced the acquisition of Airclaims, the aerospace claims management and consultancy business from LDC and CIGNA agreed to acquire white-label insurance service business FirstAssist from Barclays Private Equity. LDC also exited their investment in loss adjuster Davies in a £60m private equity deal with Electra Partners.
Other players continuing to make infill acquisitions included Tawa, the UK-listed run-off acquirer, as well as CCV (two deals). Tawa also played a role in the consortium, alongside Paraline and Skuld, that is to acquire Whittington with management becoming equity investors.
Finally, IMAS advised AIM-listed insurance broker Cobra on the disposal of its broking operations in Caterham and Alton to Aston Scott for up to £8.2m.
August saw Giles reach agreement on the recommended cash offer for CBG Group at 32p/share, valuing CBG at approximately £5m, whilst Simplyhealth Group acquired the healthcare business of Groupama (UK). Other brokers remaining active on infill acquisitions included NMJ Insurance Brokers, Allanfield Group, Reich Insurance, Invicta Insurance Services, CCV and Lark Group.
Insurance consolidation discussions have also been active in July with rumours of a £17bn offer from Zurich for Aviva, The Co-operative Group looking to sell its life arm to Royal London, as well as an agreed deal for HSBC Insurance Services £68.5m sale of its underwriting business to Syndicate Holding Corp. Giles also approached CBG regarding a potential deal whilst Lloyd’s broker Thompson, Heath & Bond is in takeover discussions with US-based broker AmWINS.
Aviva announced the sale of RAC to US private equity house Carlyle for £1bn and Axa the C$2.6bn sale of its Canadian unit to Intact Financial, Canada’s largest property and casualty insurer. Australian insurance broker Oamps acquired Giles’s life sciences business and Marketstudy continued its development in the repair sector with the acquisition of Tonbridge Coachworks Repair Group with its 900 employees.
The insurance sector was active with Lloyd’s insurers Novae and Omega in merger talks as well as Esure announcing plans to launch into the broker market, after last month’s Go Compare announcement. US broker Ryan acquired Lloyd’s insurer Jubilee, putting paid to the speculation started in February with Jubilee’s appointment of JLT Advisory.
This month saw a number of the first quarter’s speculations put to bed. Lloyd’s insurer Chaucer announced it had reached agreement to be acquired by US based Hanover Insurance Group for £313m, MMA acquired Provident Insurance and Liberty Mutual was announced as the acquirer of Quinn.
Peter Wood, Esure, announced his interest in acquiring management’s 50% share of Go Compare and the RBS chairman announced the sale of the bank’s insurance assets by H2 of 2012.
Other transactions completed were Royal Sun Alliance’s acquisition of Oak Underwriting, Central Insurance Brokers consolidated its position as the largest independent broker in Scotland with the acquisition of Collins Halden & Burnett and Tawa, an insurance runoff specialist, closed its second deal of the year in acquiring Lincoln General via a new US holding company.
A busy month with transactions across many insurance sectors. Google bought BeatthatQuote and The Bike Insurer was acquired by a web design company highlighting raised activity in the pace of online insurance offerings. Ageas acquired Castle Cover, consolidating its position in the over-50s market with RIAS. An unusual move by Markerstudy was the acquisition of the Auto Windscreen brand name, together with its head office and some other premises, as well as the more conventional Beal & Co, funeral director insurance specialists.
Plenty of announcements and speculation as well, Towergate geared up with the appointment of a new Head of Acquisitions (CCV also announced a small acquisition), Swinton announced its intention to acquire 25 businesses in 2011 and plenty of talk about Aviva grooming RAC for sale, the future of Chaucer and the Gallagher / Heath Lambert get together.
Insurers’ activity continued with Chaucer announcing approaches, Provident Insurance confirmed for sale and Achilles’ offer for Brit declared unconditional. Insurance broker Saffron announced its second deal of the year and northern based Henderson acquired P G Bradley. Gallagher announced its acquisition of Woodbrook Underwriting Agencies amid Heath Lambert speculation. Brightside acquired Quote Exchange, a price comparison website developer. Towers Watson acquired actuarial firm EMB.
The year started on a positive note for insurers as well as brokers. Amlin bought 2 businesses, J R Clare Underwriting and Lead Yacht Underwriting, building its agency underwriting base in niche areas. Admiral sold its German operation and Catlin bought a licensed shell in Wisconsin USA. Broker transactions were on the smaller side with Saffron acquiring in Suffolk, Weald’s management completing its MBO and Antur in Wales acquiring in Milford Haven.