Current brand will be retained with Finch continuing to run UK operations

Manchester broker Alec Finch Group is set for an acquisition drive after it was sold this week to French broker Verlingue, for an undisclosed amount.

"The plan now is to grow organically and via acquisition," said Alec Finch, chairman of Alec Finch Group.

"The difference is we will now be actively looking for acquisitions, once the initial transition into Verlingue is complete."

Under the deal, the broker will retain its current branding and Finch will continue to run the UK operations.

The broker will also search for new business opportunities by looking to expand into new lines, via its French owner. Further growth into Europe has not been ruled out.

"We need to think for the future, and being part of the European scene is going to be very interesting," Finch added.

Alec Finch Group is understood to have attracted interest from several UK brokers and insurers.

But, said Finch: "I wouldn't have wanted to put my staff into a liquidation plan. This is about growth and development. It is a very good deal for everyone who works for me."

He continued: "You have to consider the UK because the market place is changing so rapidly. We needed to maintain our momentum and there were lots of options open to us - we went for the sale."

Jacques Verlingue, president of the French broker, said: "Our two firms have been working together in the Worldwide Broker Network for the last 15 years and we know each other very well. I am excited by the prospect of the synergies we will generate."

The combined broker will generate more than £400m premiums annually.

Alec Finch Group reported a turnover of £4.5m in 2005 and pre-tax profits of £478,000, according to latest accounts filed with Companies House.