The purchase gives the insurer instant ‘scale’ in the Lloyd’s market, says UKGI chief executive

When Jason Storah assumed command of Aviva’s UK general insurance business in August last year, one leadership “proof point” he was keen to steer as UKGI chief executive was the insurer’s entry into the Lloyd’s market.

Fast forward to March 2024 and Aviva has now secured its spot in the Lloyd’s arena by purchasing insurance platform Probitas – including tenancy rights to Syndicate 1492 – for £242m. The deal is expected to complete by mid-2024.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Storah describes the acquisition as a “win-win all around” for both Aviva and Probitas because both organisations can tap into the scale of the other’s existing business to really ramp up growth at a much faster rate.

This is a good example of using inorganic or acquisitional growth to assist “organic ambitions” and “organic plans”, he says.

Storah continues: “Aviva has been looking at Lloyd’s on and off for a while now as part of its strategic reviews and where we want to be in terms of growing and expanding our commercial footprint.

“I started this role at the end of August and my coming in assumption was we really should be in the Lloyd’s market and so we started some work to look at what are the entry points for us, either organically or inorganically.

“One of the lenses I always look [at regarding] inorganic expansion is does it allow you to accelerate your strategy and buying Probitas allows us to accelerate getting into the Lloyd’s market given the volume and capability [it has] got. So, I feel really good about that.

“It’s a real plus to our existing business.”

Aviva having a presence in Lloyd’s additionally “answer brokers [that] have Lloyd’s business and have said ‘we’d love to place business with you, but we can’t today’,” Storah says.

“Going forward, they [will be] able to leverage the expertise, the capability and the DNA of the Probitas team [to place business via the Lloyd’s market].”

Give and take

For Storah, buying Probitas gives Aviva instant “scale” in the Lloyd’s market thanks to its “existing capability [and] volume”.

The business also has a “really strong growth and profit performance”, recording a 21% compound annual growth rate for a number of years now, Storah notes.

He adds: “Probitas is very highly regarded in the Lloyd’s market”.

In turn, Storah believes Probitas is “excited” by Aviva’s “scale synergies and distribution reach”.

He continues: “When you bolt those two things together in terms of our organic ambitions, [Probitas’] organic plans, we feel really good about the ability to do more on top of those organic plans.

“We think Aviva plugging into the Probitas team and the kind of plans and aspirations [it has] is a big plus for [Probitas] as well.”

Next steps

Storah is tight lipped about a precise plan of action around Aviva’s activity in the Lloyd’s market as the acquisition has yet to formally complete, however he confirms that the two businesses’ management teams are in talks about what success will look like moving forward in this market.

Equally, he declined to comment further on Aviva group chief executive Amanda Blanc’s point that the insurer is unlikely to make further buys in the Lloyd’s market – she acknowledged this in conversation with trade press following the publication of Aviva’s 2023 full-year financial results on 7 March 2024.

“Our focus is squarely on completing the Probitas deal and aligning and integrating the teams as appropriate,” Storah says.

“My focus and my team’s focus is on doing what we’ve said we’re going to do in terms of the Probitas acquisition and then understanding the opportunities and any new opportunities that this presents to us.

“Then, we’ll talk about what does that mean relative to our strategy, where we’re looking to grow organically and where we might be looking to grow inorganically in the future. We’re not going to speculate on acquisitions.”